British jewellery designer Annoushka Ducas collaborates with Chinese jeweller Austy Lee on cocktail rings inspired by Russian architecture – onion domed churches and their bright, cheerful colours that pop across the skyline. The sculptural rings, launched as part of her brand’s 10th anniversary, reference the personalities of Moscow, Kazan, Sochi, and St. Petersburg, while also being a nod to her iconic Touch Wood collection that uses ebony elements.
The electric hues on the architectural rings make a striking statement with the use of bright stones like tsavorites, blue sapphires, amethyst, and onyx. Annoushka sourced the golden pearls for the rings directly from the fishermen in Ilo Ilo in the Philippines, which is a place “very close” to her heart.
“I have always loved statement jewellery where there is no compromise. Austy’s jewellery is the perfect example of that: Exquisitely crafted and beautifully detailed, it is wearable sculpture, rich in colour and complexity,” says Annoushka, who met the designer completely by chance in Hong Kong. “I stumbled across his treasure trove of a studio and was entranced by his enthusiasm and beguiling collection,” she recalls. Austy’s technical flair is highlighted through the use of faceted pearls, hand-cut lapis and a movable central spire in the Kazan ring that detaches to reveal two separate rings. These rings are sold in handmade lapis lazuli boxes.
Kazan ring with a moveable central spire
What led you to collaborate with Austy Lee?
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of my brand, I wanted to revisit this core collection and make something exquisite with a designer from one of my favourite places in the world – and really where I began designing jewellery, Hong Kong.
How long did the design take to come together and what was Austy’s contribution?
We worked together for a few months on the designs. My initial Touch Wood collection gives a real indication of my design aesthetic; Austy introduced me to coloured rhodium and the faceted pearls, which ultimately produced something quite profound: Tiny pieces of Russian architecture that you can actually wear.
What fascinated you most about the churches in Russia?
I really wanted to capture the wooden structures of traditional churches in Soviet Russia – the scale of the domes was something completely breathtaking to stand beneath as a child. The more recent collaboration is about harnessing the contrasting colour and magnificence of the domes, which top every steeple across the big Russian cities – a contrast to the cool grey backdrop.
Where were the pearls hand-faceted?
They’re hand-faceted in Japan. Detail and craftsmanship are integral to my design style, so everything is hand crafted where it can be.
These rings contain wood; where is it enclosed?
Much like my Touch Wood collection, each ring has a smooth panel of polished Ebony set into the shank of each ring.
How have you added pops of colour besides using gems to enhance the rings?
We plated the 18K gold in brightly coloured Rhodium to reflect the personalities’ of the four cities – Moscow, Kazan, Sochi, and St. Petersburg. We also handpicked the Golden Pearls and South Sea Pearls for each ring to emphasis the flavour of each city – the icy purple faceted pearls represent the snowy, tiled rooftops in Sochi and the Golden Pearls representing the richness of colour in Soviet Russia.