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Earlier this year, jewellery buyers at Argos - the UK's largest jewellery retailer - invited aspiring jewellery designers to come and showcase their ideas and gain advice on pitching to, and working with, large retail businesses. The purpose was to help Argos forge stronger links with the jewellery industry and to support UK design talent, while introducing new designs and creativity into the Argos jewellery range.
Argos buyers were impressed with three designers in particular, who have since been selected to feature in the Argos jewellery range.
Paul Burkmar, 48, started his career as a diamond-mounter in Hatton Garden, London's jewellery quarter and the centre of the UK diamond trade. He met his future wife and collaborative talent, Yu Lan Su, 35, (pictured, centre) who arrived from her home country of Taiwan armed with a fresh perspective on jewellery design.
Both Paul and Yu Lan have jewellery design qualifications and Yu Lan has won several industry awards, including 'Best Design in Precious Metals' from the British Jewellers Association.
Based in their studio in Leigh-on-Sea, Paul and Yu Lan have created unique and distinctive designs, reflected in the three-piece collection they have designed for Argos. This comprises three necklaces featuring a leaf design pendant made from anodised aluminium on a silver chain from their 'Chilli' collection.
Paul said: "Yu Lan and I are both really excited by the opportunity to work such a large and respected business as Argos. Every day, we create our beautiful designs and working with Argos allows us the opportunity to display our work to a national audience for the very first time."
Husband and wife team John and Jane Massie (pictured, left) of Jian Designs use a fusion of new technologies, crafts and skills from jewellery and watch making, and precision engineering. They recently won the Editor's Choice Award at the International Jewellery London Show.
Although Jane has no formal qualifications in jewellery making or design, she has used her degree in Physics and Information Systems to help create the unique 'Stardust' collection. Inspired by the elements of a Christmas snow globe, the result is a stunning sapphire dome filled with liquid and floating cubic zirconia gems, incorporated into two silver 'Stardust' rings and one silver 'Stardust' pendant, adapted exclusively for Argos.
John said: "Argos has by far the biggest reach in the UK jewellery market and is one of the country's most progressive retailers, so it was clear to me they would be a great partner for our collections.
"Argos works to high standards and their attention to detail is second to none. They challenged Jane and I to make our products fit their broad customer base while ensuring we don't compromise our brand, and we're very proud of the result. This is just the starting point and we're looking forward to an ongoing partnership with Argos."
Since graduating with a degree in Metalwork and Jewellery from Sheffield Hallam University in 2010, jewellery designer and maker Jess Flinn (pictured, right) works from her Sheffield-based studio. Her company specialises in all stages of the process, from design through to manufacturing.
Jess' signature style is clean lined, strong and feminine and collections are made using both modern and traditional metalwork techniques. Jess' Lace Collection pieces are a fusion of strong Sheffield stainless steel and intricate lace patterns. For Argos, she has created several striking handmade statement pieces comprising structured cuff bracelets and a more delicate pendant necklace and matching drop earrings.
Inspiration can come from anywhere for Jess; from her surroundings to various people she comes across. One of the lace designs used on her cuff is the same type featured on Kate Middleton's wedding dress. Jess is now looking forward to expanding her workshop.
Jess said: "It's great to work with Argos as it's an amazing platform for my business and will enable my designs to be seen by a mass audience. I think it's really important that Argos is supporting British designers and manufacturers and I hope that other high street retailers will follow suit."
Argos jewellery buyer, Alice Rigby said: "We're delighted to support Burkmar Jewellery, Jian Designs and Jess Flinn Designs as British designers and manufacturers. Their designs complement our existing and new jewellery collections and they create jewellery that is perfect for our customers who are looking for something eye-catching, fresh and unique."
All three ranges are available in around 740 Argos stores, with information also available at argos.co.uk/designersatargos.
Argos is the UK's largest jewellery retailer and we offer a diverse selection of jewellery including precious metals, fashion-inspired costume pieces and designer 'Collections'. Over the last year, as part of our store refurbishment programme, we have installed new jewellery and watch galleries in more than 400 stores.
Notes to Editors:
For more information, please contact the Argos Press Office on 0845 120 4365 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Argos is the UK's leading multi-channel retailer, offering more than 33,000 products from around 740 stores throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, online at www.argos.co.uk, over the telephone and uniquely, through Argos TV. We continue to be the UK's largest high street retailer online with over 430 million website visits annually and serve around 130 million customers a year through our store network. In the financial year to February 2012, our sales were £3.9 billion and we employed some 31,000 people across the business.
Argos is part of Home Retail Group, the UK's leading home and general merchandise retailer.
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