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Stephen Einhorn 2000-Year-Old Thames Wood

Studio Visit: Stephen Einhorn

Heading into the warren behind Stephen Einhorn’s London studio feels much like going through the gates at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory: strange machinery, experimental rooms, an army of (admittedly full-size) artisans working and magical creations coming out from the end of the process. In short, Stephen’s workshop is nothing short of genius.

I’m going to walk you through in the route that I discovered everything, which is slightly backwards, but explains the setup and the entire process from retail all the way back to design – all of which is done in-house, on the same site in Upper Street where the studio has been for many years.

You may well already be familiar with Einhorn’s shop: nestled quietly into one of London’s most interesting and varied shopping streets – Islington’s Upper St – the shop is a beautiful, light space, filled with everything from pretty affordable pieces all the way up to second-mortgage o’clock halo pieces. Unifying the lot is the lustworthy design, beautiful materials and impeccable finish that characterises Einhorn’s work. There are also a number of his commissioned pieces for films including the staggering stag beetle neckpiece that Charlize Theron wore, which took Einhorn’s team weeks of painstakingly intricate work to craft, by hand for the film ‘Snow White & the Hunstman’.

Stephen Einhorn Shop_1Stephen Einhorn’s studio – Upper Street, Islington

Einhorn himself is a softly-spoken, passionate and thoroughly lovely man, intimately as much involved with every part of the process as a couture dress designer. It’s been a lengthy journey to where he is today though. He started off a couple of decades ago, making miniature models for an advertising agency, in the days before CGI meerkats were but a twinkle in the eye of an adman. He forged himself a niche in the industry, but eventually the pressure of increasingly demanding clients took its toll and Einhorn decided to reinvest his efforts in something a little more…rewarding. Employing his miniatures expertise, Einhorn set about becoming a jeweller with a uniquely British tongue-in-cheek and one eye firmly on craftsmanship, quality and detail.

Stephen Einhorn London Jewellery DesignerStephen Einhorn

As well as collaborating with everyone from Paul Smith to Nigo from A Bathing Ape, Einhorn has built himself an enviable reputation as a champion of British craftsmanship and the go-to jeweller for something a little bit different. His latest addition to the studio is an astounding new material called Thames Wood. Salvaged in the late ‘90s from an ancient archaeological site of a Roman dock on the River Thames, this wood dates from 186BC and was felled in around 63AD to create the docks. Over time, it’s become extremely hard and once polished up is a truly unique and impressive material whose incomparable history makes for a fantastic piece of jewellery.

Stephen Einhorn 2000-Year-Old Thames Wood2000 year old Thames Wood

Back in the studio, we disappear behind the scenes and into a Willy Wonka-esque room full of hi-tech machinery, tiny specialised rooms and a handful of diligent artisans working at separate workstations. Each of the workstations is specific to its craftsman (or indeed woman) and set up personally for them. Along with their own sets of tools, magnifiers and soldering equipment, each desk has underneath it a large canvas scoop that collects the miniscule particles of precious metal that are cut or sanded off during the polishing process; these are then send for recycling and return a surprisingly large amount of metals. It’s an essential part of the process for minimising waste; one of many parts of the process of jewellery-making that I’d never even considered.

All of Stephen Einhorn’s designs are made in-house by this team of craftsman; he tells me that they’ve explored other options, but nothing comes close in terms of quality or precision to having a team of dedicated craftspeople in house. In fact it’s something he’s passionate about. Stephen says “in my own small way I want to bring back British craftsmanship and I’m proud that the success of my company is based on that. Also it’s absolutely crucial for me to be close to the workshop as the making is tied together with the design. You can’t design anything if you don’t know absolutely how it’s going to be made. I am in and out of the design studio and workshop all day and I love it!”

Stephen Einhorn WorkshopStephen Einhorn Studio

Upstairs from the workshop (via a twisting old staircase that’s littered with some of the miniatures and mock-ups from his ad days) is Einhorn’s studio. It’s a compact space, stuffed with books and moodboards, and all sorts of design equipment from old-school desktop computers to the latest in CAD (computer-aided design, for the uninitiated) – a huge tablet computer that allows designers to play around with different ideas before they’re rendered in the metal. It’s clear as he shows me his experiments that he is a committed technophile, and while he loves classic sketching, he also loves the possibilities of precision that modelling in CAD allows – and how it means that he can create his dreams exactly.

Stephen Einhorn Wood#715142

Bespoke Men’s Wedding Ring in Titanium & Rosewood

“I like to design simple and elegant pieces, but I want everyone to like them and everyone or anyone to wear them. Our customers are all very mixed in age and style so a definite Stephen Einhorn look would be ‘individuality’. I can’t stand fashion fascism or the segregation of the ages; wear my designs and enjoy them!” he tells me.

The tour over, we head back downstairs, through the soldering and the machinery, past the photography studio and the workstations, to the shiny retail store. I marvel once more at an
18 carat white gold flame ring that is almost too beautiful (and definitely too intricate) for words. The stunning display of jewels, in simple curves and complex patterns is all the more astounding now I know they’re all crafted behind that door, and designed just upstairs. When I get back to the office, I spend most of the afternoon marvelling at Stephen’s designs via his website – I’m totally hooked. It’s a magical place that’s definitely worth exploring.

- Seb Law


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