Forgotten treasures given new lease of life

A CHANCE encounter with an old jewellery box containing her grandmothers' long forgotten jewellery was the impetus behind Niki Longmuir's decision to start her own business.

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Jewellery designer Niki Longmuir in her studio with some of her creationsPicture: Jamie Simpson
Jewellery designer Niki Longmuir in her studio with some of her creationsPicture: Jamie Simpson

She was inspired to take old and broken pieces of jewellery and re-work them into new pieces.

She named her company re-cherished as the focus is on bringing life to old and forgotten treasures and re-working them into something wearable and appropriate for the modern day.

Niki gives her new creations names based on where she has sourced the different components and relays the story behind each item to customers.

Finding her grandmothers' old jewellery box was, "a true eureka moment as I suddenly realised that I now had the ability to make something from them", she says.

"I had been retraining in silversmithing and jewellery, so I could now take the items from my past and turn them into something I'd love to wear.

"Each piece seemed so special, that its new name came instinctively.

"I found myself being stopped in the street by people asking where I got my jewellery and they were so intrigued that I ended up telling them the story behind the items used."

Spurred on by the number of people who expressed their admiration for her jewellery, Niki realised there was scope to sell her collection to the public as well as undertake bespoke commissions using people's family heirlooms.

Her day job of working in an art department in the film and television industry means that she travels a lot, enabling her to find lots of vintage pieces on her travels.

"I love rummaging through antique shops, flea markets and vintage shops and finding lost, forgotten and overlooked beautiful items.

"I have a collection from Budapest, one from Cape Town, there is a London collection to create and then there will be a Malaysian one in the future and hopefully a New York collection also."

Her love of jewellery dates back to childhood when she "loved playing with my mum's and grandmother's jewellery and was fascinated by ancient jewellery of the Romans and Greeks when taken to museums on holidays in Greece when I was little."

Having only recently launched her jewellery company she has been blown away by the response from her customers.

She said: "I would like to think it is because my work has a reason for being and is not just pure decoration.

"My jewellery is inspired by the links we make with objects and often attach emotional connections with; a single earring of your grandmother's might transport you back to being a child and allow you to remember her warmth, events and even smells associated with her.

"These items often give us comfort and happy memories, so to be able to wear them in a way that suits our own style, brings joy to the wearer when we touch and re-connect with them.

"One client described hers as her 'modern-day talisman'."

She struggles to name a favourite piece as everything she creates is a real labour of love.

She added: "There are so many favourites as I never make anything I don't really love.

"If something is not right I take it apart and start again. If I had to choose a significant piece, it would be 'Survivor's Luck'.

"All the pieces are chosen specifically: a silver vesta box is symbolic of fire to give you warmth, a silver lantern charm gives light to show you the way, the silver Rhodesian sixpence brings luck and a medallion provides protection. It is a piece to bring you strength and a smile to your face."

Asked who she would love to see wear her jewellery, she said: "It is hard to choose just one celebrity.

"However, Livia Firth is amazing and inspirational.

"She is the creative director of Eco Age and founder of the Green Carpet Challenge, which aims to promote ethically made outfits from fashion designers; she essentially encourages celebrities to re-use for red carpet affairs, so I would love her to have re-cherished jewellery."

www.re-cherished.com

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