Connie Haddenham of British jewellery company Constance Isobel Jewellery is what we Yorkshire folk would call a “grafter.” She is a young, hardworking woman who has learned her craft and put all of her knowledge into practice. Haddenham trained as a jeweller alongside studying a degree in Fine Art. And it appears that talented creators run in the Haddenham family, as Connie’s mother is also a jeweller.
In an email interview with me, Haddenham notes that she feels blessed that she could learn a trade — one that it is obvious she adores — from her mom. Taking inspiration from her mother, she describes her mom's work in gold and silversmithing as “awe inspiring.” Haddenham sees her mother as “a great role model in forging a successful career in the arts,” and there is no doubt Haddenham’s mom inspired her to take the leap into setting up her own business.
Haddenham is the sole creator behind Constance Isobel Jewellery and designs and handcrafts each piece herself with her own fair hands. It is easy to tell that Haddenham's work stems from what she describes as a “love of making and appreciation of fine art and craft.” Each piece is meticulously hand made down to the tiniest detail. I would describe her work as a “labor of love,” but there is nothing laborious about it. Haddenham’s creations are exquisite, and you can tell her heart is in each and every piece, like a chef who finds joy in cooking and thus creates the most delicious foods.
Precious metals including gold and silver are used within Haddenham's work, and are often adorned with beautiful stones sourced from high quality U.K.-based stone dealers. Haddenham enjoys employing a variety of traditional jewellery techniques, such as the “lost wax process.” This particular process involves carving and shaping designs into wax, which then go into creating a mould. The mould is then cast into the complex metal forms. Finally, the castings are reworked with extra detail and finishing touches are added before completion. This particular method creates unique, one-off designs as the original wax model is destroyed during the process.
Haddenham also finds design inspiration from the animal kingdom, she tells me. “I have always had an interest in mythical creatures and animal depictions in ancient cultures. I enjoy using metal to translate these creatures into graceful and functional adornments.” Her collection features dainty birds, lizards, and (my personal favorite) an intricately carved fox brooch. In fact, her favorite piece from her current collection is her hand carved, solid silver elephant. “The hand carving process is laborious but I feel that this makes it all the more precious and unique. It has such a pleasing weight and feel to it," she says.
Constance Isobel Jewellery’s first collection was influenced by Haddenham’s interest in symbolism and ancient Egyptian culture. This influence is clear to behold in the Gold "Horus" Pendant, the Silver "Eye" Tie Pin and the Lolite "Eye" Brooch. When asked which celebrity (living or passed) she would love to become a Constance Isobel Jewellery fan, Haddenham succinctly answered, “Cleopatra!”
Even though Haddenham employs traditional jewellery crafting techniques, she allows her fine art background to inspire her work. “I enjoy letting the two practices inform and influence one another and feel this allows an alternative approach to creating jewellery,” she tells me. Right now, she is working on an upcoming collection, which stems from her interest in motion within jewellery. Haddenham's aim is to create tactile pieces and she informs me she’s currently “working on a mechanism for swivel rings and pendants.” Haddenham wishes to continue exploring new techniques and materials, which she thinks will result in “exciting jewellery collections” — and I wholeheartedly agree with that.
If you are looking for something very special, you can have a one of a kind piece made especially for you as well. Haddenham expresses that she loves making one-off, personal pieces, telling me she's just finished a commission of “a gold textured ring with the June birthstone of pearl set in a dainty little cup,” which sounds absolutely delightful! Unique jewellery pieces are always a huge hit for landmark birthdays or to commemorate special occasions.
Haddenham describes the Constance Isobel Jewellery woman as an “adventurous, creative and independent woman who is searching for something totally unique,” explaining, “My jewellery caters to her individuality with its constant high quality and affordability.” Haddenham is passionate about creating precious yet wearable pieces by hand that make people feel great. She echoes the opinion of many others in that she dislikes the way in which a lot of mass produced jewellery is made unethically.
For those of you based in or visiting the U.K., a selection of Constance Isobel Jewellery is being shown at Pyramid Gallery in York and the Emma Sedman Gallery in Leyburn. This year, Haddenham will be exhibiting at the Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage, East Yorkshire Open Studios, and The Christmas Fair at Ripley Castle.
For any inquiries regarding purchasing, ordering, or commissioning, you can contact Connie Haddenham via the Constance Isobel Jewellery website, email, or telephone. Her work and sparkling adventures are available to view on Facebook and Instagram, too.
Images: Constance Isobel Jewellery; Instagram/constanceisobeljewellery