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Monumental and Empowering: Meet Yunus & Eliza

Yunus & Eliza are the brightest stars of British sculptural jewellery. Having worked together for almost 10 years, they have been part of the British Fashion Council’s Rock Vault initiative and most recently produced daring pieces for the phenomenally successful TV adaptation of Game of Thrones.

Ahead of their appearance at the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council’s must-attend ‘In Conversation’at International Jewellery London - where they will be interviewed alongside British jewellery icon Stephen Webster - Yunus Ascott and Eliza Higginbottom discuss their journey from experimenting with bronze to the front cover of Elle — with some fantastical dragons thrown in.

Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council: You have worked together for almost a decade. How did you first meet and become design partners?
Yunus Ascott: We met at a bronze foundry in West London and quite quickly established a shared design aesthetic and way of working together. We made a ring for fun from a larger sculpture we were making, then a journalist saw it and asked to feature it in The Independent, so we got serious!

GCDC: You describe your style as ‘where metalwork and master craftsmanship meet luxury’ — what skills or methods do you use in the creation your work?
YA: Sculpture and form always come first; each piece of jewellery works in harmony with body shape, even if it is large and outside the bounds of normal jewellery wear. We model everything from wax, and bring our backgrounds in fine art, casting and restoration to the fore. Quality and attention to detail are key.

GCDC: Is there an ethos behind each piece or collection? 
Eliza Higginbottom: We want our designs to feel monumental and empower the wearer.

GCDC: Can you recall the first 'wow' moment of your career?
YA: During our first season, Helena Christensen on the front cover of ELLE wearing only our jewellery.

GCDC: You have created some outstanding pieces for TV and film, and are known for your recent work with Game of Thrones. Tell us more about the pieces you created for the series…
EH: We were approached to work on Game of Thrones during pre-production for Season 5. We collaborated with Michele Clapton, the show’s costume designer, with whom we now co-own our sister company MEY Designs, which is licensed by HBO to sell replicas of the pieces we make for the show. We create statement pieces for Daenerys Targaryen, for example the huge sterling silver dragon collar she wears in Seasons 5 & 6, and the body chain she wears throughout Season 7. 

GCDC: If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger selves, what would you tell them?
YA: Don’t worry about the pressure to be commercial.

GCDC: Finally, who would be your dream client or collaborator, and why?
EH: We are doing more and more work with interiors, so have our eyes on a hotel or two…

The Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council’s Jos Skeates will interview Stephen Webster and Yunus and Eliza at International Jewellery London (IJL) on September 4th 2017, 15:30-16:30 at the Inspiration Theatre. Click here for more information.