Good as gold: Jewellery talent of tomorrow on show at Theo Fennell’s Fulham store

By Francesca Montero
September 25 2019, 18.45

A free exhibition on Fulham Road showcasing the award-winning work of Royal College of Art (RCA) jewellery and metalwork students opened on Monday.

The 2019 Gilded Youth Exhibition at British master and society jeweller Theo Fennell’s flagship store marks the fine jewellery and silverware brand’s eleventh year in partnership with the RCA, which supports and nurtures the jewellery talent of tomorrow.

The exhibition runs until October 4, featuring the work of the three winners of this year’s Theo Fennell RCA Awards: Haoyon Sun (winner of Best Jewellery Design), Ming Zhao (winner Best Silver Design) and Joy Bonfield-Colombara (winner of the Overall Excellence award).

Theo said: “The Gilded Youth project is our ongoing mission to support and nurture the master jewellers of the future.

“We sponsor prizes, awards and initiatives for both secondary and college students – at the RCA, Central St Martins and the Goldsmiths Centre among others – to help them prepare for the future and promote the extraordinary young talent we have in this country.”

Winner of the Overall Excellence award, Joy Bonfield-Colombara’s work pays homage to the principles underpinning classical art.

Her professional name, Joy B-C, is a reflection of her life-long interest in antiquity.

Joy graduated in jewellery and silversmithing from the Glasgow School of Art in 2014 and completed her Masters in jewellery and metalwork from the Royal College of Art in 2019.

Joy made headlines last year when a friend of US rapper Lil Wayne commissioned her to make an 18ct yellow gold pendant depicting the rap star as a birthday day gift for Lil Wayne, which helped pay a large chunk of her RCA course fees.

Joy’s piece in the exhibition, entitled Orlando’s Tears, is a stunning single 18ct yellow gold drop earring with a colour gradient of sapphire stones that transcend subtly from lilac to yellow.

Her piece aims to solidify a moment of metamorphosis, with Joy drawing inspiration from Virginia Woolf’s satirical novel Orlando.

Joy B-C is joined by Best Silver Designer winner, Ming Zhao, a Chinese artist/maker.

She graduated from the Industrial Design department of Jiangnan University in 2016.

After finishing her studies in China, she moved to London to pursue her Masters in jewellery and metalwork at the Royal College of Art.

Ming’s work treads the fine line between fine art and design.

Ming Zhao's work on show at Theo Fennell

Her artistic process is diverse; she uses multiple mediums from metalwork to glasswork and photography.

The trio of winners is completed by Best Jewellery Designer, Haoyon Sun, a designer, maker, jeweller and global traveller.

Haoyon is obsessed with exploring minority sub-cultures, hidden in every corner of the world. 

He makes sculptural jewellery, hand-crafting his collections in his nomadic style, with his cultural travels around the globe informing his work.

Most of Haoyon’s pieces are based on minority materials, antiques, rare gemstones, decorative totems and traditional crafts.

Theo said: “We are delighted to continue to enjoy such a strong and rewarding bond with the RCA faculty and its students. Our work with the RCA is fundamental to this desire to pass on the legacy of beautifully designed, hand-crafted jewellery and silverware to the next generations.”

Theo has been creating original, personal, exquisitely made fine jewellery and silverware for over forty years, following a traditional jewellery apprenticeship in Hatton Garden.

His pieces are held in museums and private collections around the world and have graced the necks, earlobes, arms and fingers of the great and the good; Sir Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and Dame Joan Collins are among his clients.

The Gilded Youth Theo Fennell x RCA Exhibition is open to the public until Friday October 4 at Theo Fennell, 169 Fulham Road, London SW3 6SP. More information on the website.

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