“I believe the perfect piece of jewellery is a personal one. It’s a piece that is imbued with memory, association, pleasure, with a place perhaps, hopefully bringing emotive connections for future generations to come.”
London based jeweller Pippa Small has been making jewellery since she was a child and was always finding pebbles, beads and shells to string on to her ever-growing collection of bracelets. Gathering collecting and creating jewellery was like a tactile diary of her existence, the pieces came to represent memories, emotions and people. As a child, she travelled widely with her family and became entranced with the cultures and peoples she encountered.
Pippa went on to study anthropology and also completed a Masters in Medical Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, by then her interests in human rights among minorities, indigenous peoples and tribal groups were already well cultivated which led her going on to work with grass roots local organisations in Borneo, Thailand and India, looking at ways of protecting indigenous lands, knowledge and biodiversity.
As her travels began to inspire her distinctive jewellery designs, Pippa soon gathered a following of admirers. She started collaborating with Christina Kim from Dosa, Nicole Farhi and Tom Ford at Gucci. She then went on to work with Bamford, helping to bring an ethical jewellery collection to the company. Pippa opened her first shop in 2007 in Notting Hill in London and soon after opened a shop in Santa Monica, California.
Pippa was named ambassador of the human rights organisation Survival International and awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2013 for ethical jewellery and charity work. She won Ethical Jeweller of the Year and the prestigious Walpole Corporate Social Responsibility award in 2016. Pippa was also named winner of the Green Sustainability Award by Town and Country magazine. She continues to venture further in exploring ways of making jewellery, reviving traditional skills and techniques in communities in Central and South America, Southern Africa, Asia and the middle East.
Pippa has been working with arts foundation Turquoise Mountain in Kabul, Afghanistan started by his Highness Prince Charles and Hamid Karzi to protect and promote traditional craft in this beautiful but war torn country for over 10 years. In 2016 she started to work with Turquoise Mountain in Myanmar to revive traditional gold work and provide training and employment opportunities for the next generation. In 2018 Pippa visited Jordan and is now working on collections incorporating ancient motifs from the middle east with Jordanian goldsmiths and refugees from the troubled region on a training programme with Turquoise Mountain. Pippa has worked extensively with the goldsmiths and stone cutters of Rajasthan, inspired by the immense creativity of the artisans and the diverse flora and fauna and landscapes and is now working with the first certified Fair mined gold from Yani, Bolivia.
Pippa holds the firm conviction that the importance of safe and creative jobs, reinforcing a sense of cultural identity and tradition through jewellery, is hugely important. In so many parts of the world there are so few opportunities and a complex mix of the impacts of climate change and conflict that is forcing people from their homes. A job, and giving a sense of pride and accomplishment, provides vital alternatives.