Time Out talks to creator of unique jewellery creations
If you want jewellery, you’ve certainly come to the right city. With high-end stores lining every street, malls crammed with the likes of Cartier and Bulgari, and the Gold Souk, which is little more than a giant trinket box packed with more precious metals than you could ever dream of. The more elaborate and glitzy, the more Abu Dhabi wants it.
But what if you’re after something a little simpler? What if your idea of accessories doesn’t include a solid gold tiara that’s been studded with diamonds and Swarovski crystals, or a bracelet that’s visible from space? Well that’s a little trickier to find round these parts. April Jones, a Melbourne expat, has spotted the gap in the market for understated, unique pieces, and has set up her business, April Reign, to create and design just such accessories.
Based in the Tourist Club Area of Abu Dhabi, April Reign is still a fledgling business – just over eight months old. It offers a variety of pieces crafted from silver and precious gems. ‘A lot of different factors were colliding – there was a gap in the market for grassroots, handmade jewellery,’ says April, explaining what inspired her to create. ‘That sort of thing is still in its infancy here. There’s such a melting pot of cultures with a real interest in art, but no strong art community.’
April works mainly with silver, but also incorporates gemstones and pearls into her pieces. ‘I like recycling and repurposing old jewellery. Using vintage components, recycled silver and recycled stones,’ she explains. ‘I use vintage Swarovski crystals and vintage pearls. My jewellery is made from all natural materials – no plastic, no fakes. I studied fine art and printmaking, so I understand how metal works; how to manipulate it.
I was given some tools from my father-in-law, and, when sifting through all the junk, I discovered some forging tools. I slowly learned how to use them, and started creating simple pieces. I don’t use any high-tech equipment – it’s all handmade and handcrafted.’
The pieces themselves have evolved rapidly from her early designs, with light, simple earrings combining silver, pearls and jade in delicate designs giving way to her more recent constructions, which comprise bold, geometric shapes sculpted from tarnished silver, or rings consisting of single gemstones in a clean, bold setting. April says her designs are inspired by the moon, and by the desert and landscapes of Abu Dhabi, Oman and even Syria. She says, ‘I started designing pieces based on what I had, what was available to me. Then, as I became more adventurous, I started looking around for inspiration. I was struck by the landscape, by the surroundings. Some pieces were created after a holiday to Syria, others were inspired by the Splendours of Mesopotamia exhibition.’
Using old silver, April likes to keep the tarnish and use the flaws, preferring to work with the metals rather than against them. ‘I could polish it away, but what would be the point? I want to show their age rather than pasting over the cracks, incorporate the flaws rather than hide them and create rustic pieces that have some character.’
With plenty of glitz and glamour lining the shelves in Abu Dhabi, we have to say it’s refreshing to see something so simple and wearable that still has plenty of personality. Only time will tell whether the rest of the city can be swayed.