Pippa Small Unearthed

Pippa Small has a gift for mindfully arranging precious stones, gems and metals in the creation of her poetic jewelry. Her attention to material and appreciation for raw details gives the jewelry a distinction that is infused with her depth of care and authenticity. Pippa is inspired not only by the Earth’s finest materials but also by its people. She designs and works with traditional cultures from around the world pairing her love for design with anthropological and ethical projects. We talk with Pippa to learn more about her unique entry into the world of jewelry design and her practice of melding all of her passions.

Pippa Small Necklace, Teardrop Opal & Moonstone Pendant

How did you begin designing jewelry?
I have always loved stones since I was a child. I loved their solidness, their permanence, the feel of their surfaces, their story – the thousands of years of the journey of their creation, the elements that created them – the heat, cold, chemicals, the wind, water, sand all forming each unique gem, giving it shape and light play and colors. I collected stones from the beach and river banks, buttons off my father’s shirt, old beads of my grandmother – anything that held meaning and memory for me, good luck charms gathered from all the places I traveled, tokens, souvenirs, a sort of narrative began to grow up my arms, neck and fingers, the story of my life through beads and shells and stones.

Pippa Small BraceletI went on to study Anthropology, a master’s in Medical Anthropology, and then on to work in Human Rights in South East Asia with tribal and indigenous communities. It was a fascinating period of my life, spending time with very traditional people living a reality so different from mine, having an extraordinary relationship with their environment.
I was fascinated by the way they wore jewellery and how and the materials and meanings to it.
Slowly, the jewellery I was making for myself started to have a demand and following – people asked me to make pieces for them and then shops and then collaborations and consulting jobs, like with Tom Ford at Gucci, Phebe Philo at Chloe, Dosa, and others – as the jewellery sort of grew organically into a business my interest in communities projects also grew – the money I earned consulting allowed me to start my first ‘project’ with the Bushman of Botswana and then later the Batwa Pygmies of Rwanda, the Kuna of Panama, The Aymara of Bolivia, slum dwellers in Nairobi, Afghan men and women in Kabul and the Mapuche of Chile – it has been a fascinating journey and very much part of why and how I design. The relationships I have been fortunate enough to have with craftspeople all over the world and the changes this business has brought to them has inspired me no end. Having always thought I would be a writer or a filmmaker – I am a jeweler … but a very lucky one.

How do you connect with materials you use to create?
I am fascinated by stones, I think they appeal and draw us in all sorts of mysterious ways, a sort of primal instinct is at play, a very subconscious desire to hold a particular stone close to the body for reasons we can’t rationalize. Jewellery and adornment is one of the earliest art forms known to man, and completely universal.

Do you have thoughts of how your jewelry infuses with a customer’s life?
I think and hope the jewellery gives pleasure, comfort, confidence and joy to the clients. I have always been interested in the Indian Vedic traditions around gemstones and their connection to the planets and their impact on man’s destiny and fate – I think we do get drawn to particular stones for a particular reasons and I hope it brings luck and good fortune and keeps all bad at bay.

Have your ethical projects influenced the way you design?
With every project I do, I research a great deal the traditional designs and aesthetics around jewellery or textiles, tiles, painting or even architecture to find inspiration that relates to a peoples and their place in the world. Every project draws on the culture and history of the region where I am working, so it is relevant to the people making it. I always take some elements on with me to the next collection.

PIPPA Small Ring_3_HuzzaBlog

Have you had a specific experience with another culture that deeply inspired you?
Every trip, every project has brought adventures, experiences and been inspiring all for different ways. Of late I have been very moved by the struggle of the Afghan craftsmen and women, they have so much to overcome – for the women to go to school or to come to work in the workshop is a grave risk for them – they could be killed for doing these things. They have such dreams and hopes for their lives, and they love coming to work and being in a team, earning money – but these are very brave acts for a girl. All they want is to be able to live in peace, to work, to be with their families and live – yet there is so much violence and tension that every day is a struggle –

Pippa Small Jewelry Designer

Pippa’s designs are true celebrations of people and the Earth’s finest materials. She adorns us with wearable creations that are both luxurious and humble, a balance that can only stem from the most genuine source. Pippa Small’s dedication to her jewelry and care for the cultures she works with is undeniably inspiring. She is a designer on a mission to beautify and better all in her path. We are happy to support Pippa and are continually excited to present her designs. Click the logo below to learn more and to view Huzza’s current collection of Pippa Small jewelry.


Pippa Small logo


Photography: Cody MacCready, Pippa Small Archive
Writing: Kate Bonsted

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