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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - London Jewelry Week kicked off with a glitzy launch party on Monday night in defiance of the austere mood sweeping Britain, showcasing the best of young British design talent.
At a dazzling cocktail and canapes soiree in Goldsmiths' Hall, some of Britain's top jewelry designers showed off their latest creations in gold, silver and diamonds.
They said they hoped London Jewelry Week, now in its third edition and running from June 7-13, would become as mainstream a feature on the British social calendar as London Fashion Week.
As paparazzi gathered outside, top jewel designers Shaun Leane and David Marshall mingled with high society glitterati, such as supermodel and TV presenter Lisa Butcher, showing off their work in display cases lining the historic hall.
London Jewelry Week is a series of events taking place across the capital, featuring designers' latest collections, as well as educational seminars. The Hatton Garden diamond jewelry quarter is throwing its own street festival.
"We need a real showcase for our design skills and craftsmanship," Marshall told Reuters.
"This event should end up, we hope, like a London Fashion Week for the jewelry industry."
David Marshall, who built a reputation as one of Britain's premier jewelry manufacturers and designers, will use London Jewelry Week to help him develop his own brand.
Based in Hatton Garden, Marshall has worked with a team of craftsmen to expand his Diamond Feather Collection, which was on display in Goldsmiths' Hall.
The collection was inspired by the magnificent winged goddesses of ancient Greece and the graceful curves of a swan, and emulates the span of a bird's wing in flight.
FASHION AND Jewelry
Shaun Leane, UK jewelry designer of the year 2009, told Reuters he saw London Jewelry Week as key to promoting ties between the worlds of fashion and jewelry, and to highlight London's hotbed of creative talent in jewelry design.
"London has always been about avant garde in fashion. This applies to jewelry as well," Leane said.
Jewellers said they were battling the twin challenges of soaring precious metals prices and the tough economic times ahead as the new coalition government in Britain reins in public spending to control the ballooning national debt.
Established luxury jewellers like Shaun Leane and Stephen Webster, as well as up-and-coming designers, have shifted into silver, as gold prices have soared to record heights.
"London Jewelry Week is about making people more aware that London is a manufacturing center," said Hector Miller, trade warden for the Goldsmiths' Company, and a leading silversmith, who gave a speech to launch the week's activities.
"London Jewelry Week raises the profile of UK jewelry talent and skills. Anything that involves adding value to the raw materials, gold and silver, will benefit the sector.
"Budget cuts alone will do nothing to put wealth back into the economy," Miller told Reuters.
Reporting by David Brough; editing by Paul Casciato