UK jewellery designer creates collection for Dutch museum

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Facets of Avalon is a mother and daughter partnership between designer, Rachel Reilly and 2D mixed media artist Jan Billings, who are celebrating 20 years in business. The duo sells knitted-wire jewellery that’s designed and handmade by Rachel in their studio, and the multi-media mosaics created by Jan using materials such as semi-precious gemstones and sand.

For the new project, Rachel sculpted her metal fabric into unique jewellery pieces to run alongside an exhibition of Renaissance paintings at the Prinsenhof Museum in Deft. Inspired by the frilly collars in the artwork, the ‘Ripple’ collection is made up of a large neck piece, a cuff and earrings.

Rachel has perfected her wire knitting technique over the last 20 years after discovering wire in a broken television. The designer started machine knitting the enamelled, fine copper wire into metal fabric and sculpting this into wearable pieces. Able to blend colours as she knits to match any shade, the designer is regularly commissioned to create unique pieces by fashion houses, performers, and photographers.

With Glastonbury now recognised internationally thanks to the famous festival, the business receives orders from a small customer base all over the world, with social media increasing interest from people overseas. Earlier this year the company exhibited at the Sieraad International Jewellery Art Fair thanks to a bursary from the Department for International Trade (DIT), which led to the Prinsenhof museum collaboration.

Since then, Rachel has gone on to showcase her jewellery in Italy, Portugal, Barcelona and during Milan fashion week in March. The designer has also received an invitation to attend the European touring jewellery exhibition curated by Netherlands-based textile and paper jewellery designer Luis Acosta.

Facets of Avalon Co-founder Rachel Reilly said:

I get commissioned to make jewellery for lots of different projects, but the Deft Museum collaboration has been one of my favourites. It was the fashion details in the Renaissance paintings that inspired my capsule collection and it was very well received by the Prinsenhof Museum.

Although Glastonbury has visitors all year round, there is a distinct lull during the first quarter of the year and to address this we have started doing more events both in the UK and internationally, with lots more interest coming from Europe.

Selling internationally has been a fairly stress-free experience as my work uses mostly non-precious, light-weight materials so shipping is pretty straight-forward. DIT has definitely been a massive help – a very efficient and friendly service that yields significant benefits for your business!

Paul Shand, DIT’s Head of Trade in the South West, said:

Facets of Avalon is one of the South West businesses that we have been supporting with the aim of creating new exporters, so it’s great to see Rachel finding demand for her unique jewellery overseas.

I would encourage other businesses in the region that are considering international trade for the first time, or looking to expand their international footprint, to get in touch. We have a dedicated team of International Trade Advisers based in the South West and specialists in 109 countries worldwide.

Businesses looking for support should contact 01275 370 944 or email DITsw@mobile.trade.gov.uk. They can also visit great.gov.uk which has a wide range of live export opportunities currently listed and includes general information on exporting and events.

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