The en­dur­ing ap­peal of jew­ellery is even more en­hanced when it’s cre­ated spe­cially for you by a lo­cal jew­eller


Look back through his­tory and there’s hardly, if ever, a time when we hu­mans haven’t adorned our­selves with jew­ellery. Jew­ellery de­sign and de­sign­ers are an im­por­tant part of our artis­tic cul­ture, and jewellers are a con­stant pres­ence on the high street, en­dur­ing through even the tough­est of eco­nomic times, it seems.


Mark and Tessa Ri­ley es­tab­lished Ri­ley & Ri­ley in Ip­swich in 2004. Both have been in jew­ellery all their work­ing lives, with sig­nif­i­cant jewellers around the coun­try. Ri­ley & Ri­ley is com­pletely in­de­pen­dent, sup­ply­ing and mak­ing stylish, qual­ity jew­ellery with the high­est level of care and ser­vice at com­pet­i­tive prices. They stock a wide range of jew­ellery, en­gage­ment rings and wed­ding rings, sil­ver and gold jew­ellery, their own hand made in-house range, the fa­mous Aldeburgh Peb­bles, jew­ellery from Kit Heath, Muru Lon­don and V-Jew­ellery, a small range of watches and some pe­riod and sec­ond hand pieces in Aldeburgh. Prices range from un­der £20 up­wards. Jew­ellery sets its own fashion trends and Mark says cur­rently it is trending along the lines of the Arts and Crafts move­ment.

“Many of our cus­tomers are look­ing for things not mass pro­duced – hand-made pieces and per­son­alised pieces. If I make an en­gage­ment ring or say, one of my Aldeburgh Peb­bles, I make it, per­son­ally, at my work­bench in Aldeburgh or Ip­swich, from start to fin­ish. A qual­i­fied gem­mol­o­gist and di­a­mond grader, Mark has been mak­ing jew­ellery for years, but only in­tro­duced his first col­lec­tion into stock about five years ago, shortly after open­ing a sec­ond shop in Aldeburgh. “Of course, I don’t make ev­ery­thing we sell, and we do have stun­ning pieces made by fan­tas­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers from home and abroad. Things from na­ture are con­tin­u­ing to be pop­u­lar, starfish, bees, sea­horses, peb­bles and, of course, amber, par­tic­u­larly in Aldeburgh.” Mark thor­oughly en­joys the world of jew­ellery.

“Ev­ery day we work with beau­ti­ful pre­cious things,” he says. “Some­times jew­ellery is bought as a ‘treat your­self’ present, but so of­ten it is for a sig­nif­i­cant event, an en­gage­ment, a wed­ding, birth of a child, an­niver­sary or birth­day. What could be bet­ter than help­ing peo­ple find a beau­ti­ful piece of jew­ellery to com­mem­o­rate a big oc­ca­sion in life?

“We have lots of cus­tomers who have ‘grown up’ with us, bought their en­gage­ment rings from us, wed­ding rings, eter­nity rings, and now they come into the shop with their high school age fam­ily. To have that kind of re­la­tion­ship is spe­cial.”


Jew­ellery maker Marisa Arna started out mak­ing hand-thrown ceramics, mostly porce­lain, sell­ing table­ware and dec­o­ra­tive work from her stu­dio in Thor­peLe-So­ken, at fairs, gal­leries, the Con­ran Shop, and the V & A shop.

She fo­cused on mak­ing jew­ellery in late 2006, fol­low­ing a short course with master sil­ver­smith Richard White­house, based in Man­ningtree, and sold to cus­tomers who had been buy­ing her ceramics. She showed her first col­lec­tion of hand­made jew­ellery at a craft trade fair and held a Maker of the Month solo ex­hi­bi­tion in May 2007 at the old First­site gallery in Colch­ester. Since then she has un­der­taken spe­cialised train­ing with mas­ters in gold­smithing and stone­set­ting.

“With jew­ellery, it was love at first site,” she says. “I love the smaller scale, per­fect for my hands and strength. I love

the con­stant tech­ni­cal chal­lenge and stim­u­la­tion. There are so many dif­fer­ent fields within jew­ellery, so many dif­fer­ent skills. Proper mount­mak­ing, where all the set­tings, ev­ery­thing is hand­made, is like engi­neer­ing on a smaller scale.

“Jew­ellery is a lot more per­sonal than ceramics, par­tic­u­larly the be­spoke work. It can be for a cel­e­bra­tion or a com­mem­o­ra­tion. It can in­volve re­cy­cling, such as re­mod­elling an heir­loom or an old piece of jew­ellery into some­thing that can be en­joyed and worn for many more years.

“I also en­joy com­mu­ni­cat­ing with peo­ple, sit­ting down at the stu­dio and talk­ing to them about what I can make for them, to suit their taste and life­style and for that spe­cific oc­ca­sion. I meet so many lovely, in­ter­est­ing peo­ple who can be lo­cal or may have trav­elled quite a long way. It’s a very much ap­pre­ci­ated bonus.”

Marisa has a stu­dio with a gallery sell­ing her work and other hand-picked, UK-based, jew­ellery de­signer-mak­ers. Her work is mostly var­i­ous col­lec­tions in sil­ver and gold, in­clud­ing some rings with pre­cious and semi-pre­cious stones.

“My rings are al­ways very pop­u­lar, both in gold as well as sil­ver, with di­a­monds or coloured stones. Mixed colour pieces in white (or sil­ver) and yel­low or red gold or sil­ver and ox­i­dized (black) sil­ver have been steadily in trend. The square rings are be­com­ing more and more pop­u­lar be­cause they are very com­fort­able to wear ev­ery day. I have been us­ing var­i­ous colour sap­phires, spinels and tour­ma­lines, as well as aqua­marines. For some, di­a­monds are the only stones and for­ever. Oc­cluded di­a­monds are a less pricey and more un­der­stated and some cus­tomers pre­fer them. Yel­low gold has been in­creas­ingly more pop­u­lar, but also more and more peo­ple are wear­ing my con­tem­po­rary sil­ver col­lec­tions.”

ABOVE LEFT: Jew­ellery de­signer Marisa Arna at her stu­dio in Thorpe Le So­ken.ABOVE RIGHT: Triple di­a­mond Annabelle ring in three colours by Mark Ri­leyRIGHT: Mark Ri­ley, jew­eller at his work­bench in the Aldeburgh shop

Marisa Arna white and yel­low gold bands with di­a­monds

Ri­ley & Ri­ley Aldeburgh

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