Recently winning the Highly Commended British Jewellers’ Association Award at the British Craft Trade Fair, Velvet Magazine caught up with Rachel Harvey and Lucy Quinn (aka Harvey & Quinn) to learn more about their beautiful jewellery.
Taking inspiration from rare and unusual buttons to create unique and sometimes one-off pieces of jewellery, Harvey & Quinn are passionate about transforming their finds into new items that hold an air of theatrically.
1. How did you both meet, and how did you decide to work together?
Lucy and I met at a toddlers group with our children in Saffron Walden. Lucy told me she was a jewellery designer and maker and I was an actress, but I had always been interested in design.
Lucy had her own range of work, and I was immediately attracted to its contemporary design and bought a piece of her work. As we became friends we thought how nice it would be to work together, and I mentioned I had managed to rescue my Grandmother’s box of vintage buttons from going to a charity shop. We spent a morning looking through this box, and were totally absorbed in what we saw as a box of treasure! We found buttons from so many different eras, Edwardian, Victorian and Art Deco pieces from the 1930’s. That is where the seed of an idea began to grow!
Lucy has been a jewellery designer and maker for 17 years under the name Lucy Easton, and as I’m an actress who loves meeting new people, our skill sets work well together, as I tend to promote the business while Lucy is making. We come together through designing our collections and very much brainstorm new ideas as a partnership.
2. What is it about buttons that inspire the basis of your work?
Buttons lend themselves beautifully to jewellery making.They are exquisite little pieces of history in their own right, and we often wonder what garment they were originally worn on. The kind of buttons we use in our work are incredibly detailed, like the Austrian Tinies dating back to the end of the 19th century, and their richness and depth when set in sterling silver really rejuvenate the button and gives it a wonderful new function and lease of life which very much inspires us.
3. History is obviously very integral to your jewellery making, how do you integrate new and old to create your pieces?
I think what fascinates us is once a button is set and polished it is quite literally transformed. We don’t necessarily look to be contemporary, we simply wish to enhance the beautiful object we are working with. We are both very interested in ancient jewellery which so often has a surprisingly modern look, and our own work, I think, could quite easily be mistaken for work made centuries ago.