THE Swiss goldsmith, Philippe Pfeiffer, who relocated his flourishing atelier from Zurich to trendy Spitalfields in London’s East End last year, has launched a new summer collection. Tucked away on a discreet corner of Artillery Lane, his new premises occupy an historic site where the artisans of the 18th century silk-weaving industry once resided. Pfeiffer is a bespoke jewellery designer of extraordinary talent who combines precious stones with untraditional materials to create dramatic one-off pieces and stunning collections.
Pfeiffer’s work, which is hand-crafted at his workshop on the same premises, attracts a predominantly German clientele but his designs also appeal to the French who are drawn to his distinctly bold and modish pieces. Pfeiffer also reinterprets vintage jewellery into sophisticated contemporary pieces but, as he explains,
“I want to be a witness of our time, and as much as I like antique and Victorian jewellery, I don’t want to copy it.”
At street level, spectacular displays twinkle seductively from the cabinets but the origin of their intriguing journey begins downstairs. From every corner, surface and drawer of Pfeiffer’s workshop, a myriad of peculiarities abound. It is here that sharks’ teeth, fossilised dinosaur bones, trilobites, coral and other barnacled relics fuel the more experimental side of his work.
Fascinated by textures, the designer gleans much of his inspiration from nature, chance finds in French flea markets or on his travels to Africa and Brazil. His fabulous tarnished silver necklace of grey Fijian pearls clearly shows an intrigue in effects of corrosion too. Pfeiffer produces sketches for his commissioned designs but considers that prototypes are more useful to clients, “The nicest is being able to put something physical on your finger and you feel it and it is going to be exactly that,” he says.
He firmly believes that a big personality is not prerequisite for wearing his more flamboyant rings which he describes waggishly as “chunky”. His wedding rings for men are also striking and equally substantial. Trimmed with brilliant cut diamonds, they are made with Aluflex, the very stuff of Ferraris and racing boats.
According to Pfeiffer, heirlooms are no longer popular as women simply do not want to wear their mothers’ jewellery. He explains that in the age of mass-production, preferences have changed and occasionally he is asked to copy costume jewellery, “People go, I’ve got this beautiful piece and it’s not real. I’d like it in the real thing, how much is that going to cost?”
A visit to this wonderful atelier will reveal all.
by Miranda Charalambous
From the Sea, Summer Collection 2017 which is available from Philippe Pfeiffer Jewellery, 52 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS
Tel: +44 (0) 207 377 9722
Mobile: +44 (0) 734 155 6937
Philippe Pfeiffer Jewellery is open during weekdays from 11am to 7pm, and at weekends by appointment.
Front page image: Philippe Pfeiffer outside his atelier in Spitalfields, London. Courtesy of Golden Squared Consulting and Philippe Pfeiffer Jewellery