Reinventing family treasures is at the heart of Bijou Junkie as Charlotte Pearson learns.
When jewellery is handed down through the family sometimes it is hard to know what to do with it.
This can result in necklaces, rings and bracelets staying in the bottom of the jewellery box untouched.
But now a Portsmouth jewellery designer is reinventing the old into new.
Bijou Junkie was created by Amanda Lawson (pictured opposite) after being left pieces by her mum.
“My mum passed away five years ago and I inherited all this jewellery that used to belong to my mum, nan and gran,” she says. “A lot of it I wouldn’t personally wear so I customised it, restyling it to my own taste.”
Friends began asking where the jewellery was from and Amanda realised there was a market for customising vintage pieces and that she could do it herself.
So it was during a career break following 15 years working at M&S, where she worked as a senior manager, that Bijou Junkie was born.
“I loved my job but wanted to be passionate about what I was doing. So I decided to have a career break and just never went back,” she recalls. “During the break I tried to build up items so that when I started I had some stock.”
Officially launched in March, the pieces of jewellery are described as ‘vintage inspired, re-loved vintage and unique’.
Although not all of it is vintage, it is a mix of old and new with no two pieces being the same.
Beginning with necklaces, Amanda used the jewellery from her mother as a starting point and these first pieces are still some of her favourites.
“I kept all the first things I did from my items but sometimes I discover a piece and still find it hard to let go,” she smiles. “I don’t think I have that much jewellery but I think my husband would disagree.”
As well as the unique pieces on her website Amanda also takes commissions to re-style family items.
However, knowing she would be dealing with other people’s treasured pieces she felt compelled to complete a jewellery course.
“I did a course to find out how to construct jewellery so that I could feel confident that when people left their personal items with me I could do something with it,” she explains.
“My friend asked me to do something with a piece of jewellery her mum had left her so I made this funky, casual necklace which she could wear day to night and she wears it all the time,” she adds.
“It is just really satisfying to take grandma’s little treasure and make it into a piece that can be worn now every day and be a loved piece again.”
A lot of the bespoke items she makes are for brides, who either give a piece of their own jewellery or send over pictures of the dress, theme or colours for Amanda to create something special.
“It is a great feeling when I give items back to their owners, especially if it is for their wedding. I work with a lot of brides so it can get a bit emotional,” she smiles.
Most of the items she buys after trawling through charity shops, antique fairs or car boots. In fact she admits she no longer buys items from the high street for herself.
A lot of love is put into each creation, with each piece taking between four to eight hours to complete.
“It depends how complex it is and what I have to do with it,” Amanda explains. “With bridal pieces it can a bit longer as there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing.”
Bijou Junkie is also getting into the festive spirit with Christmas decorations.
“I have made a few Christmas wreaths – Uriel, Ariel and Gabriel. They are made using vintage lace, distressed fabric and re-loved treasures,” she enthuses.
Reinventing the old into new, Amanda has breathed new life into vintage pieces – transforming prized possessions and making them much loved and much worn items, to have and to hold for future generations.
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November 26, 2013 Fashion and Beauty