Notes from Pippa, designing her newest collection for Turquoise Mountain. Kabul, August 2011: "Walking through the bazaar every day to Javid's new workshop has been an adventure in itself, considered an unsafe area at first one walks through with caution and head down ..but then the next time you look up and smile and when you smile even the most frightening Taliban fierce face under big turbans and shawls and beards suddenly opens into a beautiful smile and wave and nod in greeting - isn't smiling wonderful?"
Pippa Small grew up in a family of artists and travellers and spent her childhood exploring the world with her mother and siblings becoming very inspired and influenced by the many fascinating cultures she was encountering. Later she went on to study Anthropology and then completed a Masters in Medical Anthropology, by then her interests in Human rights among minorities, indigenous and tribal groups was already well cultivated. She went on to work with grass roots local organisations in Borneo, Thailand and India, looking at ways of protecting indigenous lands, knowledge and biodiversity.
Pippa had been making jewellery since she was a child and was always finding little pebbles, beads and shells to string on to her ever-growing collection of bracelets. By the time she was a teenager they had spread from her wrist to elbow - gathering, collecting and creating jewellery was like a tactile diary of her existence, the pieces came to represent memories, emotions and people.
Pippa soon gathered a following of admirers, which grew rapidly, this then led to shops eager to stock her jewellery. One of the first being the department store Barneys New York, which started to sell her jewellery about 14 years ago. Her wholesale and private commission work grew and she started collaborating with Christina Kim from Dosa in 2000, and Nicole Farhi in 2001. In 2002 she designed collections with Tom Ford at Gucci and then worked at Chloe under Phoebe Philo. She then went on to work with Bamford, helping to bring an ethical jewellery collection to the company. Pippa was made an Ambassador of the Human Rights organisation Survival International in 2008.
Pippa opened her first shop in 2007 in Notting Hill in London and in 2008 she opened a shop in Brentwood Los Angeles.
She has ventured further in exploring ways of making jewellery, reviving traditional skills and techniques in communities in Central America and Southern Africa. She has worked with the world's first registered Fairtrade gold mine in Bolivia. Pippa also works with the prestigious charity Turquoise Mountain in Afghanistan and with the esteemed Fairtrade company MADE based in Kibera, a slum area in Nairobi.
Pippa believes the art of jewellery making can enhance life and help alleviate poverty and protect precious traditions, helping to grow the confidence of crafts people around the world and reverse the tradition of exploitation associated with the gem industry over the centuries. Her jewellery is collected and coveted by many who appreciate the rough organic, hand made feel of the jewellery. Using precious and semi precious stones, playing with colour and allowing the natural feel of the stones to harmonise with high caret warm yellow gold. Pippa's pieces are full of stories and inspired by ancient, tribal jewellery and the harmonious shapes found in nature.