This elegant brooch is by the designer and jewellery maker Ella Fearon-Low, who I met a few years ago at the London Dazzle exhibition. We quickly began a conversation about brooches and arranged for Ella to come and view my collection. We had a wonderful afternoon and over a cup of tea and piece of cake we discussed a new brooch for my collection. Ella had brought a few ideas with her but as soon as I saw the ‘Three Queens’ which I think she may have been wearing at the time I knew that would be the one. I think it was the combination of the soft gold colour and shape of the main body of the brooch combined with the lustre of the pearls. The brooch is made in brass and then plated in a layer of 22 carat gold before the pearls are added. Ella takes great care when picking pearls for her work; they are vintage and work well with the materials she is using. And who doesn’t love a pearl!
Jewellery design and making is a second career for Ella, she previously worked with international NGOs supporting social development projects across Asia and Africa. After completing a jewellery course at Morley College, London, in 2016 she has never looked back. The ‘Three Queens’ is one of two brooches at the centre of the Modern Rococo Collection which was the first collection Ella launched and formed part of her graduating showcase from Morley College. The inspiration for Modern Rococo, to quote Ella, “is a ramshackle crew of slightly quirky shapes which pay homage to historical forms.” The collection layers the silhouettes of royal chess pieces and medieval window details, with the beautiful undulating forms of wooden finials and Renaissance jewellery. She is inspired by decorative and domestic objects from throughout history and finds influences as diverse as Roman Jewellery, 17th Century glassware and Edwardian aesthetics.
Here are a couple of sketches Ella did as part of the creation process for the Modern Rococo collection.
It is wonderful to be able to see how the shapes and ideas developed.
Ella works by hand using traditional jewellery bench techniques; piercing, filing, drilling, riveting, soldering and forming. She believes there is a unique quality in the relationship between the hand and the eye resulting in a far more refined balance and softness industrial techniques cannot replicate. She is passionate about the details and I know from the experience of commission discussions with her, she will painstakingly source and perfect a piece before it is ready for me the wear.
My ‘Three Queens’ brooch has matching earrings, because I couldn’t decide which of the ‘three queens’ to pick for the shape of the earrings so I have two different ones; the middle and the one on the right! I love the asymmetrical look they create. Since meeting Ella, I have commissioned two further brooch and earring sets from her, both from her Cumulus range. I can’t wait to see where next Ella will go with her inspiration.
When Ella first told me the name ‘Three Queens’ I immediately thought of the image of the three Queens standing so solemnly at the funeral of the late King George VI. I know this was not the inspiration but whenever I wear the brooch I do think of this picture.
Daughter, Mother, Widow
Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at the funeral of King George VI 15th February 1952