“Snipping clipping shearing drilling rolling milling drawing scratching stretching curling scoring scribing torching…”
The work of Savage & Chong is both unusual and exceptional: jewellery that is finely wrought and delicate but not overtly girly, that is at once considered and carefully crafted whilst remaining affordable.
Created by two women as exceptional as their work – Romilly Saumarez-Smith and Lucie Gledhill (the name Savage & Chong is derived from Romilly’s maiden name and Lucie’s mother’s maiden name respectively) – the emphasis of the company is very much on the jewellery itself, on the craft required to make each piece and on the story it tells.
Romilly’s training was a traditional one: at Camberwell Art School she was taught bookbinding by tutors who had done traditional apprenticeships. Her first task there was to make her own toolbox, her second was to make the tools she would use in her subsequent practice. This method of learning may seem anachronistic now but it is one that Romilly credits with teaching her to think through the stages of making. She went on to work at the famed Zaehnsdorf Bindery before starting her own practice. Always interested in her materials – vellum with caligraphic decoration, leather patterned with wax resistant dyes – Romilly was wholly drawn in when she began to work with metal, so different was it from paper and leather. She took a sabbatical to explore jewellery-making and never went back…
Lucie is just as invested in the making of their work. She trained as a jeweller first at Middlesex, then at Bishopsland, graduating finally from the Royal College of Art in 2009. Her education took in all elements of jewellery-making, from the conceptual to the technical, but most of all taught her to be curious, adventurous and confident, whilst remembering to be self reflective. She describes what they do at Savage & Chong in just a few words: ‘made with simple gestures of the hand, with integrity and simplicity’. Her words capture their jewellery perfectly: each piece is individual, made by their own hands in their own small studio, nothing is cast or plated, everything is solid gold or silver, given colour and texture with oxidisation, heat and a multitude of other techniques (the quote above is from a long, long list of techniques on their website - their wonderful version of an 'about us').
Their combined aesthetic is refined and unshowy. Their choices of shapes seem driven by the things they find around them – seeds, buttons, woven threads, parts of a flower, pulses, whisks – as well as by the metal itself. Each piece sits almost weightless against the skin. This is as far from costume jewellery as you can get – to own a piece of their work is to make it a part of your person, part of your life. This is jewellery that has it’s own story to tell, but that will become a part of your tale too.
Savage & Chong jewellery is available online, from a website as rich in art and narrative as the jewellery itself: www.savageandchong.com