Last week I went for lunch with award-winning Shoreditch jewellery designer Rachel Entwistle – a favourite of Keira Knightley and Florence Welch among others. Already obsessed with Rachel’s delicate pieces inspired by ancient amulets, mythology and symbolism – I, too, wear my favourite pieces as protective talismans – I wanted to find out more about the lady behind the brand…
Tell us a bit about your time jewellery making and running retreats in Mexico?
I travelled to Central America and Mexico after leaving my job as a co-ordinator for an environmental campaign organisation in London. I suppose I was seeking a free lifestyle not tied down by the mundanity of work and I also missed having time to be creative. In Mexico, I discovered a strong artisanal culture and quite a nomadic lifestyle in many ways. I met many artisanal jewellers and started to learn the basics of jewellery making, moving on to working in workshops and then studying at the University of the Arts.
At the same time I was passionate and excited about the esoteric and spiritual practices of the Aztec and Toltec traditions and began to study a practice called Toltecayotl, along the lines of Carlos Castaneda’s work. I met my partner at the time through this work and moved on to translate for him as a teacher. He also had a background as a jeweller and we would pass our days in the workshop making or running classes for locals and tourists. We eventually brought our jewellery and the workshops to the UK in the summer months and ran retreats in Mexico in the winter.
How amazing is the silver arrowhead ring? Half price at the moment…
Can you explain a bit about the symbolism you use in your jewellery?
Having a background studying Cultural Studies, I have a strong interest in anthropology, symbolism, culture and meaning. Each one of my designs is created from a place drawing on this inspiration so there is a narrative of symbolism and significance in each design. The spider, for example, is a powerful symbol for the Hopi tribe, many Hopi tribes people have tattoos of spiders. It is a strong symbol of creativity and our ability to weave our path or weave our journey and often associated with female creativity.
The Alchemical collection draws on ancient alchemy principles and philosophies which encapsulate a holistic approach to life integrating science with the metaphysical side of things. There is a thread of symbols in this collection which represent the four elements, the sun and moon, moon phases and the ouroboros serpent – the symbol of eternity or rebirth and growth. The Modern Primitive collection draws on ancient indigenous symbolism in jewellery translating the arrowhead as a symbol of protection or power but also paying homage to primitive man as a source of inspiration.
What is the most meaningful piece to you from your collections?
That is a tricky one. I think I am attached to the pieces as I am designing and making them and the place I enter when I create them. Different pieces of jewellery have different relationships or meanings to me. A favourite from the Alchemical collection is the Sun, Moon and Four Elements stacking rings. They sit beautifully together and the outer rings have hidden alchemy inscriptions in latin. This is one of my favourite pieces.
I also wear the ouroboros snake ring a lot – it’s extremely comfortable and wearable and such a timeless significance. I am also very excited about the new collection Metamorphosis which features signet rings for the pinky finger and classic wearable pendants. My favourite design of this collection (at the moment) is the spider – I love the symbolism of female creativity and the idea we can weave our path.
Your shop Thor & Wistle is at the heart of a little east London shopping district – can you talk us through some of your style & home picks from Redchurch Street and the surrounding area?
Shoreditch is a great area for eating, drinking and shopping! We have some great neighbours from the ace hair stylists and manicurists at Painted Lady to the new interior design shop Monologue who have a really good eye for fresh design. My new favourite is the Goodhood Store – they really nail it on shoes and underwear for me! Article on Shoreditch High St is a great place to shop for men’s gifts and Aida has some beautiful designs for women. My favourite shop of all time is Pelicans & Parrots in Dalston though – guaranteed to find the best selection of stunning vintage clothing!
Delicately fine bracelets!
I’m obsessed with the Four Elements rings, each with the Fire, Wind, Earth and Water alchemical symbols hand-engraved which size small enough to be worn as midis as well – the bronze one (I have this one) comes in at £39 and the silver, £79
Arrowhead necklace in silver…
A big thank you to Rachel for the interview and for introducing me to liquorice tea! I quite like the idea of starting a Sunday Interview series – what do you think? Is Sunday a good day to kick back and read something a little more indepth?