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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Amanda Li Hope, A Jewelry Designer with an Architect’s Mind

Mini XX earrings made with Fairtrade Fairmined 18k yellow gold and rubies.

LONDON — Everyone once in a while I’ll use this blog to introduce a new jewelry designer. Amanda Li Hope, a working architect who has been making jewelry as a business since 2009, creates petite, well crafted jewelry that she describes as “contemporary, geometric, (and) sleek,” made primarily with ethically sourced metals and gemstones.

The Boston native who now lives in London works with gold and silver and incorporates diamonds, sapphires, rubies and other gemstones into her works. After receiving her BA in architecture at Columbia in New York she moved to London to get her Masters’ degree in architecture. She said that her architectural training has a strong impact on her work.

Asteroid earrings made of Fairtrade Fairmined rose gold.

“My mind tends to lean towards architectural representation and logic,” she says. “Whether this was learned or instinctive, I am not sure, but my designs often have a crisp linear quality about them while at the same time have a strong three-dimensional geometries.”

Amanda Li Hope's display during the 14 Carat event at Craft Central.

She works three days a week as an architect and four days a week making jewelry in her workbench at Craft Central, a studio and training center for craftspersons and artists in the Clerkenwell neighborhood, known for attracting creative professionals. She is gradually working toward the day when she can be a full-time jewelry designer.

"I've always loved working and making with my hands—the more detailed and precise the project, the better," she says. "I’m obsessed with fine detail, craftsmanship, and working with beautiful materials. I love working with precious metals and fine gemstones, especially those with ethical provenance."

Amanda Li Hope promotes her use of Fairtrade & Fairminded Gold.

Li Hope is proud of holding one of the first 20 licenses to make and sell Fairtrade & Fairmined gold jewelry—a certification system for small-scale and artisanal mines that show a respect for the human rights of workers and communities where these mine operate and the environment around the mines.

“Let’s face it—the source of the precious elements used in jewelry comes from the Earth by cringe-worthy means and methods, a troubling irony when jewelry is worn as a reflection of one’s personal style and ethos, and frequently given as gifts of love and affection,” she says. “As soon as I learned of the Fairtrade Foundation’s initiative to sign up as a jeweler, I contacted them without hesitation. I haven’t looked back since as being able to work with materials that are certifiably traceable gives both me and the consumer both satisfaction and confidence behind the jewelry being made, given, and worn.”

Amanda Li Hope at her workbench in Craft central.

Li Hope reminds me of what a small world we live in—figuratively and literally. I first “met” her on Twitter. During my recent visit to London to write about the exhibition, “Gold: Power and Allure, 4,500 Years of Gold Treasures from Across Britain,” at Goldsmiths’ Hall, I visited a restaurant in Clerkenwell. In this massive city, it turns out that Craft Central is directly across the street from the restaurant and that the design center was hosting an exhibition for London Jewellery Week, called 14 Carat.

Without social media and a little bit of geographical luck, our meeting would have never happened.

Below is a video of Li Hope created by supadupa.me, which hosts her website.

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