Finger candy: delectable jewels by Minka
Designed in London, here’s the ultimate ‘colour pop’ high jewellery brand
Minka jewels can be likened to multicoloured bonbons. Rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets sparkle with chromatic intensity thanks to juicy gems that look like they’ve been plucked from a rainbow. You’ll find watermelon and lime coloured tourmalines, honey-hued citrine, icy diamonds and cerulean topaz set in chunky 18ct gold settings, resulting in a style that is unabashedly opulent, yet resolutely chic.
Each precious stone is handpicked by gemologist Lucy Crowther who is passionate about jewellery that “pops with colour”, always bold, playful and of the highest quality.
Crowther is no ordinary designer. Having trained at The Gemmological Association of Great Britain, she has a deep understanding of high carat, superlative gemstones. She honed her skills at the sharp end of the business, first as a gem buyer for the famed Gem Palace in Jaipur, jewellers to India’s Royal Family since 1852, then as head of sales for G.F. Williams in London’s Hatton Garden, a worldwide supplier of gemstones.
“Working for [G.F.Williams] was an incredible training experience spread over three years,” says Crowther whose recent Minka Jewels collection, “Mermaid”, is inspired by the colours of the sea and features pink (below), aqua and green stones, along with Tahitian and Keshi pearls. “I learned how to value each stone which was really nerve-wracking to begin with. You need to be so precise and meticulous with the observation process - it is all about your eye and your assessment. I would also travel with the stock to meet prestigious jewellery manufacturers and clients all around the world, from Ireland to Nepal. I love all kinds of stones, but my favourite has to be tourmaline because it comes in so many shades. Colour makes us happy, and even more so when it comes in the form of these little miracles from the Earth’s core.”
Crowther is softly spoken, until she hits on the story of a stone. “I buy my gems off an amazing stone dealer,” she says. “It really is like being in a sweetshop. These days, he sends me WhatsApp messages with details of new stock and these even images on a tiny screen can prove difficult to resist!” Half of Crowther’s business comes from custom made projects and recently she’s been working on a bespoke gold ring to hold a vivid 9ct antique yellow sapphire, currently set in a necklace. “It’s a very deep Sri Lankan stone, so it’s taking some careful thought. Ultimately it has to be modern and wearable. Just the kind of challenge I love,” she enthuses.
During lockdown, the jeweller noted a surge in business thanks to Instagram. “Recently many more clients have come my way via social media,” she says. “I’ve also noticed an increase in female customers buying my pieces. That’s quite a big change.” Crowther is very much hands on when it comes to her brand image. “I take all my own photographs for Minka’s IG feed. Growing up, I wanted to be a photographer, in fact, I studied photography at Bournemouth Arts Institute. These days, though, I stick to my still life shots and pictures of my dogs.”
She says a love of jewellery was instilled in her at a young age by her grandmother who had a penchant for versatile and tactile pieces. “I recently created a dual design - one ring is 18ct yellow gold, the other is 18t white gold - and this ‘two-in-one’ shape is connected by a diamond-set hinge, so you can flip the stones to either side. It’s inspired by a ring my granny used to wear which could be twisted to show sapphires, rubies and diamonds on either side. It’s hard to explain but it’s about making practical jewellery that’s charming and timeless, and of course playful.”
After her photography course, Crowther entered the jewellery world via a rather unconventional route: assisting the fashion editor and stylist Sebastian Kaufmann, she found herself drawn to the dazzling jewels he would source for his editorial shoots. “I would often collect jewellery from Pebble London, an archive based in Sussex Gardens,” explains the designer, who is best known for her large precious cocktail rings that come in a multitude of colours. “It’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave of jewellery from around the world. It’s here that the spark really started. I’m definitely a ring person. It’s the most personal of jewellery pieces if you think about it. The stones I choose look different according to the light they find themselves in. A ring is for the wearer as much as it is for anyone else. You can gaze at it all day.”