Meadowlark jewellery offbeat and metallic

Last updated 05:00 01/12/2011
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KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
CUTTING EDGE: Meadowlark jewellery designers Claire Hammon and Greg Fromont.

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The latest offering from New Zealand jewellery brand Meadowlark is darkly beautiful and I'm not the only one coveting it.

People were lining up to try it on at the recent Wellington launch of Meadowlark's summer Arrowhead collection. It's been more than a week now since I slipped it on my finger and I'm still obsessing about it.

The faceted cocktail ring is hand- carved from silver with arrowheads flanking a Thai garnet and its silhouette is partly prehistoric but also futuristic. It could dress the hand of an ancient king or spaceship crew member.

Meadowlark has been around for five years but the Wellington event was the brand's first-ever launch party. Its Auckland-based designers, husband and wife Greg Fromont and Claire Hammon, were lured south by Ange Gordon of The Service Depot in Wakefield St. Gordon is a champion of cool New Zealand creatives and has sold the brand since it began in 2006, also stocking it at her former store, Artikel.

Since that time Hammon and Fromont have produced two collections of precious jewellery a year, in silver and gold. The designs are sometimes playful, sometimes dark. Fromont and Hammon's goal is to produce "modern classic" pieces that are high quality and long lasting.

Their protea ring, set with different-coloured stones, is the most popular to date, with more than 200 produced.

Many of the pieces can be customised, with onyx, Thai garnet, blue topaz, smokey quartz, rose quartz, citrine or amethyst added at the customer's request.

In addition, Fromont creates one- off pieces for private clients under his own name.

They have also collaborated with fashion designer James Dobson of Jimmy D for his New Zealand Fashion Week shows for the past two years and produced limited- edition "extreme pieces" with leading style bloggers.

The new Arrowhead collection includes Flintstone-like bones, and as the name implies, arrow heads, to create a range of futuristic artefacts and talisman power symbols. "All of our ranges have a mix of ancient civilisations and artefacts with a modern slant," Fromont says.

Until recently he worked from the spare room in the couple's home but the growth of the business and family (they are proud parents of baby girl Gigi, 10 months) has seen him move into a workshop, and employ someone to help with the finishing of the pieces.

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Hammon runs the business side, though she also brings design ideas to the table. In her late teens and early 20s she grew a successful streetwear label, Urchin, which she sold in 2004. The sale enabled her to follow her passion for graphic design, a skill she now brings to Meadowlark.

Fromont trained in visual arts, majoring in jewellery, and has since mastered jewellery design and construction. When they met he was experimenting with making jewellery.

"We design first and worry about how to make it later which can be tricky but I enjoy the challenge."

Hammon says Fromont's "strange process" - "if you can figure out the physics you can make anything you want" - is an advantage.

"The way he works out how to make something is unrelated to jewellery processes because he's not traditionally trained," she says.

Going into business together seemed obvious with Hammon's business acumen and eye for design. "We had a lot of great ideas and just clicked. It was obvious it was going to work," Fromont says.

They chose the name, Meadowlark, inspired by a quote by The Devil's Dictionary author Ambrose Bierce: "The strange metallic note of the meadow lark, suggesting the clash of vibrant blades."

"It's a beautiful quote and as we'd already produced daggers and blades it just fit," Hammon says.

Over the past five years, Meadowlark has garnered an impressive list of celebrity fans, including Jaimie Hince of The Kills, Alison Mosshart of The Kills/Dead Weather, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, singers Gin Wigmore and Anika Moa, actress/ stuntwoman Zoe Bell and actress Rose McIvor.

Welch wore her ring for shoots in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar; and Hedi Slimane photographed Mosshart wearing her pieces for Another Magazine.

"It's been amazing. These are not orchestrated moments. They're wearing them in real-life situations and are true fans of the brand," Hammon says.

- The Dominion Post

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