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Luis Miguel Howard - The Catalyst
Luis Miguel Howard is one of the most popular names of United Kingdom, in the realm of gems and jewellery. Having decided to pursue jewellery designing at the tender age of 12, Luis is inspired by everything salient. A complete family man and a party lover, Luis has left no stone unturned to create the most unique, bespoke jewellery. Priyanka Desai meets up with him to unearth his journey, dreams and interests.
By: Diamond World News Service
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Feb 18 2014 1:13PM
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Reference: 8854  

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Luis Miguel Howard creates jewels that are gentle, full of movement and bold in colour. Striking flowing shapes suspend glittering briolettes, topazes snake sinuously over lapis lazuli, stars cascade delicately down the throat. These are pieces that have been inspired by India, Art Nouveau and the Belle Epoque; pieces, which are versatile and have the ultimate function of adornment in mind. Luis is inspired by the simplest of things and converts these simple inspirations into jewel masterpieces.

Talking more about his inspiration, he says, “Various shapes inspire me a lot. I love Art Nouveau and Art Deco, but it can be the shape a flower petal curls, or a particular curve in a city skyline. I also love colour. For me, it is about the piece of jewellery as a whole and how shape and colour work together to create something beautiful. I try and incorporate movement too, particularly in pendants and earrings, as it is flattering to the wearer. I often use briolettes suspended on tiny wires that will tremble even if the wearer is absolutely still so that the stones will catch the light. For me, jewellery is supposed to be timeless.You are working with amazing materials that are highly durable; creating things that can be very labour intensive, so I try to make things timeless.The last thing you want it to create a piece that is going to look outdated in five years time.”

Art and creativity of such stature cannot be inculcated but a person has to be born with it. Luis is one of the few lucky ones who have innate sense of art and innovation and he also one of the lucky few, who chose his career path even before hitting the teens. Talking about his foray in the industry, he shares, “I have wanted to be a jewellery designer since I was very young. I have always loved sparkly things. My biggest influence as a child was my mother’s friend, who lived very close by. She had a wonderful jewellery collection and importantly, it was varied. It ranged from spectacular antique Indian pieces, to eighteenth century pearls to modern masterpieces by Cartier. She used to let me play with them and sort them out for her and put them back into their proper boxes. It was handling such amazing pieces first hand that crystalised my love of jewels. I finished my A-Levels at a bilingual school in the South of Spain and moved to England to attend an art college. I graduated in 2000 from the Kent Institute of Art and Design with a BA (Hons) in Silversmithing, Goldsmithing and Jewellery Design. It was a highly comprehensive course.They taught me to see how metal worked, but most importantly they taught me to look outside my usual parameters for design inspiration. Before then, I had a very conservative approach. After a stint in retail I went to work for Boucheron in Bond Street as a sales associate.It was an exciting time as SolangeAzagury-Partridge was the creative director at the time and I was dealing with some of the best-crafted pieces in the world on a daily basis.But after a couple of years there I realised it was time to start designing for myself. I created a collection of jewels to launch myself as a bespoke designer. One can’t really show people a book of pretty drawings and say ‘this is what I do’. People have to get a feel for your product, see that it is well made and that it sits properly. That was 2004 and I haven’t looked back since.”

It has been a decade since his foray and now Luis Miguel Howard has become synonymous to bespoke jewellery for discerning clients. He also does a lot of re-setting of people’s own stones and tries and involves the client as much as possible in the design process. Talking more about his journey and accolades, he states, “I suppose I cater for people who are not overtly into brands and labels. There are an increasing amount of bespoke jewellery designers in London, but being established a little bit longer than others, I am quite proud of my portfolio and experience. The award I am most proud of is the Design Bursary I was awarded by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths- they gave me the materials to create a white gold and topaz tiara for my third and final year at college. They strive to promote excellence in British Jewellery Design so I was very pleased to get the award.”

When asked to share an interesting anecdote from his early career phase, he is in a deep thought and reminisces with a smile, “A very good client came to see me once with what she thought was a piece of blue glass from her great-aunt’s jewellery box. After cleaning it a little and having a good look it, it turned out to be a stunning cushion cut sapphire weighing 24 carats. It was probably Indian. We made a beautiful diamond and platinum setting for it. She was very specific about the deadline and when I went to deliver it she was fully dressed up in diamonds and a tiara. She slipped her new ring on her finger, as she wanted to wear it to a State Banquet to Windsor Castle in honour of the President of India. I was very flattered.”

The jewellery designed by Luis is befitting for the stately castles and palaces but can everyone afford it? He answers it with his latest collection. “My latest collection is Pret-a-Porter Collection. It is my diffusion range, a more wearable, affordable version of my fine jewellery. I wanted to distil the signature elements of my fine jewellery— colour, movement and light, into fun, playful, everyday pieces of jewellery. I looked at what had inspired me over the last few years: nature, Art Nouveau, Moghul motifs and added a few new elements, such as ideas from Aubrey Beardsley and focused mainly on gold with a lot less elaborate settings.”

The collection may be affordable but only a woman with a discerning taste can be seen adorning jewellery designed by him. Elaborating more about his ideal clientele, he says, “My clients are people who want something unique and who enjoy quality. They also enjoy getting involved in the design process, choosing their own stones and laying them out on setting paste to see what the piece is going to look like. The clincher is that they know they will be getting something that no one else has got.”

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