The Jewellery Box

The design duo with eyes for antiques

‘We met at Temperley 10 or 12 years ago’ says Anna Williamson, one half of the duo behind luxury silk pyjama brand, Yolke.  The label’s inception came when Anna saw the ‘beautiful fabrics’ Ella Ringner was designing during a degree at Saint Martins. The vivid prints, applied to sleek silhouettes have become signature. We meet at Anna’s home in West London to talk jewellery hunting, antique styles and the joy of finding precious pieces…

How would you describe your jewellery style?

Ella: I only wear gold, chunky jewellery. I like old pieces that I have acquired from family or bought from a market. Everything has to have a story. And it has to look like it does – I love that gold gets a bit beaten up along the way. I collect antique trinkets and charms – it’s hard to find them in gold these days but Kempton market often has good ones.

Anna: I have always worn watches, but I didn’t wear jewellery until I was 19. Discovering jewellery was a gradual process for me. I wear the same pieces every day. I’m a creature of habit – I only ever take off my necklaces and rings at night. My friends associate my jewellery with me.

camera Anna Williamson & Ella Ringner, founders of Yolke

camera Anna's gold necklace by Caroline Najman

What is your most treasured piece?

Anna: My gold necklace by French jewellery designer – Caroline Najman (above). I spotted it whilst shopping with my mum but didn’t end up buying it. A week later she was on her way to Damascus and her and my dad had a horrible car accident – they’re fine now, thankfully – but it was really horrible. A couple of months later when she was back and recovered she gave me the necklace as a ‘thanks for looking after me’ present.

Ella: My parrot charm is my most important piece – my dad got them for my mum when we were little. My mum used to wear it on her big hoops, and it would jangle so you could always hear her. My mum is no longer alive – I have one and my sister Phoebe has the other. Once I lost it in a meadow at a wedding, after a big search, the mother of the bride found it during the clear up.

camera Ella's parrot charm left to her by her mother

camera Trinkets and charms from Kempton Market

Losing a piece of jewellery is heartbreaking.

Anna: I lost my gold necklace sunbathing in Ibiza a couple of summers ago. I was so devastated and emailed the company immediately who said they would make another one for me. For the last few days of the holiday, I kept sitting in the grass, searching. And when we were about to go for our plane it suddenly shined at me from across the garden – it was saying i’m here, take me home! Now I wear the replica, and keep the original my Mum gave me in a safe place.

Ella: Seven years ago when my mum died, there was a ring missing – we couldn’t find it anywhere. It was a little amethyst set in gold. One day my sister called me and said she had had a dream about our mum. Later the same day, my dad called to say he’d been going through a drawer and at the back was the amethyst ring. They were separated, so how it got from my mum’s house to the drawer, no one knows. Now Phoebe wears it every day and we are so happy it’s back in the family again.

camera Anna's collection of gold necklaces

Tell me a story behind a piece of jewellery?

Anna: I spend a lot of time in Ibiza and I buy these beaded bracelets from a little shop there. They have become a bit of a talisman – I’ve worn this one for 5 years. One broke recently – it was a 30th present from some of my girlfriends. They come off and on – sometimes I only wear a few, other times it’s loads.

Ella: This bracelet (below) is from my husband‘s granny – it has my daughters initials. It’s a replica of a family heirloom that she has given to all her great granddaughters. The idea is that their mothers can wear the bracelet until they are old enough to do so.

camera Ella's rings including her Annoushka engagement ring

And tell me about your rings?

Ella: They all represent important people in my life: one was given to me by my husband to mark the birth of our daughter. One was from my mum for my 21st. This one is from my Dad, it says weaving, raving, striving, laughing – from when I finished Saint Martins. And then my engagement ring which is by Annoushka.

Anna: I wear these stacking rings by Tessa Packard (below). This coral and diamond ring was my granny’s (also below).  It had a matching set of earrings and a necklace that came with it – but they were stolen years ago. I love it, it’s always been my very favourite ring and I’ve always thought if someone was going to propose to me, I’d want a ring just like this…

camera Anna's rings including Tessa Packard stacking rings

camera Coral ring left to Anna by her Grandmother

camera Anna's engagement ring by Sophie Breitmeyer

You are recently engaged, tell us about your engagement ring?

I always liked the idea of being involved in the process of finding, or designing a ring. We got engaged with a Russian wedding ring as holding ring so we could search for the ring together. We looked in Greys, Hatton garden, all the nice antique shops, and I found a 1920s ring that I loved but I wanted to incorporate two diamonds my mum had given us. We worked with Notting Hill based jewellery designer Sophie Breitmeyer who sourced a yellow sapphire and took the antique ring as a starting point (above). It’s been a really fun process – it’s made me look at jewellery in a new light.