There aren’t many eventers who haven’t heard of HiHo Silver or seen their beguiling trade stands at some of the premier events.
HiHo Silver is one of those familiar brands who always seem to be offering something new and a little different for a wide range of customers. As part of their ethos the team at HiHo likes to offer upcoming designers a showcase for their work. This forward thinking way of working sets HiHo apart from its competitors and ensures their customers get a taste of some cutting edge design alongside their more traditional or classic pieces. James Veale is a designer who has a small part of his collection represented by HiHo so we set out to discover a little more about his work. James originates from Hertfordshire and is now based in Ely, Cambridgeshire. We were lucky enough to hear about James’ unique approach to creating jewellery.
When did you decide you wanted to be a jeweller and why?
Well, I was probably about 13 when I decided that I wanted to be a jeweller. My grandfather, on my Mum’s side, used to make jewellery as a hobby in the garage, and it was after I’d made some place holders with him that I decided. That said, it’s kind of in my blood – there are silversmiths on my dad’s side of the family and my mum’s side were interested in hallmarking.
What inspires you in the work you do?
I work with a good friend of mine called Edward Waites (Eddy) – he’s an amazing sculptor and the detail and the movement his pieces have can work really well in jewellery. Not all Eddy’s pieces are made into jewellery as some sculptures don’t translate all that well when the size is reduced as they lose the detail, and I want to stay true to his artwork. Most of the jewellery is around 400 times smaller than the original sculpture, so there’s a lot to consider!
I think that the kind of wildlife/animal themed jewellery I create is a bit different to anything else that’s available and, through developing this line, it’s where my specialism lies.
How would you describe the style of your jewellery?
It’s tricky to sum up! A more modern take on traditional artwork that I work into statement pieces.
What’s your process when designing a new piece?
It’s quite a process! I think about how the person will wear it, if it’s bold enough to work and give the kind of feeling I want to wearer to have. Also, how will it look when viewed from two or three metres away? If the original sculpture is quite subtle, it doesn’t necessarily scale down that well. I progress with pieces that show fluidity and movement and that I think will work well in a couple of formats, such as a pendant and a pair of cufflinks…simply because the process takes a lot of times from Eddy’s point of view and from my point of view too.
Why are most of your pieces silver? What made you decide to make a gold piece (like Gold Atlas Bear)?
Silver is where my heart is – it’s the main metal I focus on for a number of reasons. As a British jeweller making my pieces in the UK, I have to be competitive even though it’s a high end product. Making pieces from 18ct gold vermeil is lovely, but it’s expensive and I want people to be able to buy and enjoy the pieces.
I do make the odd design in gold, such as Atlas Bear, because I felt that it was such a powerful design that it would work really well. I do keep the gold to a minimum though.
Well, I give my jewellery fun names because I think the pieces have so much personality. I come up with the name that I think suits the piece (such as Plucky Pheasant and One Horse Race) – I also think it’s a nice way to set them apart from other jewellery collections.
What’s it like working with Hiho?
I really enjoy working with the Hiho team. They’re likeminded, supportive and always at the end of the phone. I feel like we work well together and my style complements the Hiho style perfectly, so it gives Hiho customers even more choice. I do feel like I’ve joined the Hiho family because of the way we work together, which is lovely!
And finally…tell us something about you – what do you like to do in your spare time, and we’d love to hear more about your lovely dog, Arthur!
I really enjoy wakeboarding – something I took up at university and it’s pretty different to my ‘day job’!
Arthur is a real character and although I steal him for most of the time, he’s actually my mum’s dog! He’s a one year old working Cocker Spaniel and a trainee gundog, so we do go on shoots together – I normally do about one day a year…depending on who invites me!
I spend quite a bit of time at Newmarket racecourse, which is on the doorstep. It’s a great place to get inspired and as a few of my friends’ dads are trainers, it makes sense!
James’ designs are available from HiHo Silver HERE from £125