Pippa Small was described by the Sunday Times in December 2012 as “the glamorous bohemian’s rock purveyor of choice”. This description captures the growing clientele who visit her shops in London and Los Angeles seeking jewellery that is different, organic, ethnic and ethical. By wearing one of Pippa’s pieces – whether radiant tourmaline earrings or a ring of chunky amethyst nestling in a warm gold setting – you are carrying with you a story, a culture from afar and, perhaps, an example of the ancient skills handed on to an indigenous or tribal craftsperson.
London-based jewellery designer Pippa has worked for more than 20 years to pioneer a style of jewellery that respects the shape of the stones she uses. She works around their natural contours, rather than cutting, polishing and reworking them. It is this determination to retain the natural organic feel to her jewellery that sets her apart from others.
When you own a necklace, ring or earrings from Pippa Small, you know that she has personally chosen the stones, taken inspiration from them to work on their setting and had long conversations with craftspersons to produce a piece that is beautiful, clean and close to nature.
Behind the production of Pippa’s jewellery is a belief that her work must be both ethical and bring benefits to her collaborators. It has led her to be one of the first jewellers working with clean gold – gold mined without impacting the environment, respecting labour rights and often produced by community cooperatives.
Pippa has also worked closely with indigenous, tribal and traditional crafts persons to develop lines of jewellery and other art works that draw on their traditions and yet help them to reach a new and demanding world market. It has resulted in projects with the Kuna Indians of Panama, the Batwa of Rwanda, the San Bushmen of Botswana, slum dwellers in Kenya, Afghan artisans and Aymara goldsmiths in Bolivia. Her work with indigenous peoples was honoured in 2008 by the human rights organization Survival International which named her as its Ambassador.
“I believe that the art of jewellery making can enhance life, create opportunities, protect precious traditions, grow the confidence of craftspeople around the world and reverse the tradition of exploitation associated with the gem industry over the centuries” says Pippa.
But Pippa’s work is not only appreciated by her clients, it is recognized by some of the most influential designers including Tom Ford, Nicole Farhi, Phoebe Philo and Christina Kim, with whom she has collaborated. She has worked with the fairtrade company MADE in Kenya and continues to work with the charity Turquoise Mountain in Afghanistan to strengthen the skills of local people. In 2013 she was recognised for her extensive work by getting an MBE in Ethical Jewellery. Pippa has a shop in Notting Hill, London and Los Angeles.