Magpie Jewellery: Canadian bling at its best

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Every week, it’s the same. Another email from another talented Canadian jewelry designer hoping for a place to sell their wares. Fortunately for them, Jennifer Stone, the keen-eyed buyer for Magpie Jewellery, has a thing for homegrown talent. In fact, she stocks the company’s three locations with about 80-per-cent Canadian designers, including a number from Ottawa.
These Emily Swarovski crystal and pearl earrings, $135, were created by Nancy Ciccone, a Toronto-based artist and teacher who is gaining an international reputation as a bridal and engagement jeweller.
These Emily Swarovski crystal and pearl earrings, $135, were created by Nancy Ciccone, a Toronto-based artist and teacher who is gaining an international reputation as a bridal and engagement jeweller. Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen Style
Everything is coming up roses with this sapphire and diamond ring, $7,495, designed by Toronto’s Anne Sportun, who made her first wholesale order at the age of 16. Since then, Sportun’s work has become sought after worldwide. In 2003, her handcrafted jewelry appeared on a Canadian postage stamp.
Everything is coming up roses with this sapphire and diamond ring, $7,495, designed by Toronto’s Anne Sportun, who made her first wholesale order at the age of 16. Since then, Sportun’s work has become sought after worldwide. In 2003, her handcrafted jewelry appeared on a Canadian postage stamp. Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen Style

“Whatever is out there in the world, there’s someone in Canada making similar things at a high level of quality,” she says. “They’re coming out of schools like the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, they’re doing things as environmentally friendly as possible and they’re so talented.”

Topping the class is local designer Chayle Cook, whose elegant-meets-edgy hammered pieces made from reclaimed silver and copper have been gaining an increasingly enthusiastic following. The story is the same with custom jeweller Caelen Ellis, one of few regional designers who insist on using fair-mined gold in their pieces.

This delicate necklace, $485, with tassel made from tiny fresh-water pearls and 18-karat gold transforms into a doubled up necklace or wrist wrap. It was created by popular Toronto-based artist Anne Sportun, who was one of the first Canadian designers carried by Magpie.
This delicate necklace, $485, with tassel made from tiny fresh-water pearls and 18-karat gold transforms into a doubled up necklace or wrist wrap. It was created by artist Anne Sportun, who was one of the first Canadian designers carried by Magpie Jewellery, which operates three boutiques in Ottawa. Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen Style
Montreal designer Anne-Marie Chagnon’s jewelry, like these blue glass and metal earrings, $35, is renowned for its architectural approach. Chagnon has also designed with Cirque du Soleil since 2002 and has a celebrity following.
Montreal designer Anne-Marie Chagnon’s jewelry, like these blue glass and metal earrings, $35, is renowned for its architectural approach. Chagnon has also designed with Cirque du Soleil since 2002 and has a celebrity following. Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen Style
This smoky quartz and twisted gold-filled wire pendant is by Arnprior designer and gemologist, Dianne Rodger. $196.
This smoky quartz and twisted gold-filled wire pendant is by Arnprior designer and gemologist, Dianne Rodger. $196. Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen Style

Also included in the buy-local list is Lissa Bowie — now living in Mexico — who once worked at Magpie, where fellow Arnprior designer Dianne Rodger is still employed. Rodger, a trained gemologist, started creating jewelry in 2002 as a way to showcase her love of stones.

Co-owner Martin Wright says he sees a big uptick in Christmas purchases that support artists like Rodger.

“To support someone in your city who also supports the city, especially as we go into the festive season, creates a positive cycle,” he says.

he Winged Heart 32 peacock pearl and lost-wax pendant necklace, $359, is designed by Wade and Danielle Papin of Pyrrha, who started their company at their kitchen table in Vancouver. The couple use authentic 18th- and 19th-century wax seals to create their pendants, which are washed for a month in environmentally friendly soap, rather than quick-acting but harsher chemicals.
The Winged Heart 32 peacock pearl and lost-wax pendant necklace, $359, is designed by Wade and Danielle Papin of Pyrrha, who started their company at their kitchen table in Vancouver. The couple use authentic 18th- and 19th-century wax seals to create their pendants, which are washed for a month in environmentally friendly soap, rather than quick-acting but harsher chemicals. Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen Style
Arnprior’s Dianne Rodger, who is inspired by messy birds’ nests and curly pea pod coils, created this sophisticated twisted gold-filled wire necklace. It’s available at Magpie for $193.
Arnprior’s Dianne Rodger, who is inspired by messy birds’ nests and curly pea pod coils, created this sophisticated twisted gold-filled wire necklace. It’s available at Magpie for $193. The jewelry store has a boutique in Westboro, the Glebe and the Rideau Centre. Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen Style

In the bigger picture, the market for Canadian designers like Toronto’s Anne Sportun, Montreal’s Anne-Marie Chagnon and Wade and Danielle Papin, the husband and wife team behind popular Vancouver brand Pyrrha, isn’t just a buy Canadian decision, it’s economical, adds Stone.

“The way the dollar is now, it just makes sense. There are designers out there, so why reach out to the United States or China when you can get something better made at home?”

Published on: November 30, 2015 in the Ottawa Citizen