A ship’s tale
As a lover of sapphires, Lexi Maller knew exactly how to celebrate her milestone birthday: by commissioning a decadent piece of jewellery for herself, dripping in her favourite stones.
To make her special 30th birthday piece, she chose artist Jennifer Martin. “Jennifer has an amazing way of telling a narrative through jewellery,” said Lexi. “Everything that she does has a story to it, and you can feel that she’s envisioning that while she makes it. I knew that she would see my piece as more than just a physical object.”
It turns out this piece had been brewing in Lexi’s mind for over a decade. “I saw one of Jennifer’s exhibitions at e.g.etal around 10 years ago, and I remember thinking, ‘I would love a ship to be made in that style’.” Lexi was also inspired by Jennifer’s more recent work, including including a necklace featuring irregular lapis beads.
For Jennifer, the commission was exciting but challenging, leading to a shift in process.
Jennifer uses a technique called repoussé, where the design is hammered into relief on the reverse side. After creating the ship from a single piece of metal, she felt it wasn’t quite hitting the brief. “It felt too stiff. I hadn’t achieved the feeling of movement that the client wanted. So I took a different approach – one that I had never done before. I carefully cut out the different elements of the ship and then layered and reassembled them into a three-dimensional piece. The more I worked on the necklace, the more it evolved. It became a really large, opulent piece.”
It’s hard to believe that a necklace incorporating so many elements – lapis, sapphires and mixed metals – could be missing anything. But Jennifer knew an extra touch was required to make sure this object exceeded expectations. “I was looking at pictures of 17th century galleon ships for reference, and I really wanted that grand look, so I decided to add some strings of pearls to act as ‘rigging’.”
The client was thrilled with the result: “The pearls have become my favourite thing about the piece,” said Lexi. “I had no idea that was happening and it was an extremely pleasant surprise! I love all the small details. I love the sapphires dangling off the waves, and just how huge it is. It’s the most epic piece of jewellery I’ve ever seen. It makes me feel very bold and strong. It’s an extraordinary piece.”