Profile - Gail Klevan


Last year, jewellery designer Gail Klevan teamed up with her son to launch GK Style


Words by Emily Martin

GAIL KLEVAN is widely known for her colourful, contemporary, handmade jewellery as well as her jewellery-making appearances on television, radio and even blockbuster films. Over the years her designs have been featured in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, The Mail on Sunday, Elle, Vogue, Country Living, and Harpers & Queen, among others. Emma Thompson wore Klevan’s jewellery in the 2004 hit film Love Actually, and her work has even been the subject of discussion during BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programme. While being one of the UK’s foremost designers working in acrylic with her jewellery both desirable and collectible, Klevan is keen not to be pigeon-holed as, exclusively, a jewellery designer. Last year, teaming up with her son Abraham Mandel, GK Style was launched: a lifestyle and interior design business showcasing another string to an already very decorative bow.

GK Style espresso and latte cups and saucers; Autumn Lake Fleece Blanket; Scarlet Reign cushion and fleece blanket

‘I would say I’m a designer; I wouldn’t say solely jewellery,’ says Klevan. ‘I’m a creative – I like to create things and I’m a problemsolver. I like to work out how to make things the best way.’

Mother and son set up GK Style when Mandel relocated to Atlanta, US, with his wife and young family. Enthused by his mother’s legacy and creative abilities, Mandel is driven to showcase her most well-known pieces in a new light, as well as emphasising her other creative talents, while for Klevan, she says the business helps to create a closeness between the two when geographically far apart, and him to manage her legacy.

GK Style espresso and latte cups and saucers; Autumn Lake Fleece Blanket; Scarlet Reign cushion and fleece blanket

Klevan took her first degree in 3D Design at Manchester Polytechnic in 1981, and later won a full bursary from the Royal College of Art for a master’s degree in silversmithing and jewellery. Her degree show at the college, however, contained a range of not just jewellery but also fabrics, furniture and lighting, and while there she won the 1983 Bakri Award. Fast forward a dozen years and she would go on, in 1995, to win the Jewellery Award at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

GK Style espresso and latte cups and saucers; Autumn Lake Fleece Blanket; Scarlet Reign cushion and fleece blanket

As a student Klevan made light fixtures, light shades, serving trays and door handles, among other interior products. She says that she’s been doing interior design for many years, which has blurred the concept of what jewellery design is: ‘I decided to do woodwork and metalwork [while a student in Manchester] and that was basically jewellery: the metal work was jewellery and then even the woodwork was jewellery. I did boxes and things, but I also did necklaces…’

Collar necklaces by Gail Klevan

She always knew she wanted to go to art school: ‘[From the age of] five… I was making things: outfits for trolls, covering matchboxes with fruit, and plastic fruit – I was making all the time. Everyone said “you’re so good at art” and it gives you encouragement to carry on.’

Klevan describes herself as a creative and problem-solver

The present day has led her to ‘move on to other things’ with the launch of GK Style. You’ll see this sentiment echoed on its homepage: ‘Gail Klevan... beyond the jewellery. Elevate your lifestyle with a burst of colour.’ Explore the site further and you’ll see new products that reflect Klevan’s infamous jewellery designs, marking a new era for the designer: bold patterns and bursts of colour can be seen in fabrics, which take direct inspiration from her acrylic designs that she became captivated by as a student in the 1980s.

Klevan is fascinated by the effects caused when light travels through her pieces

‘I started making fans during my degree and I wanted something thin and plastic; something hard but thin that I could make the fan parts from,’ Klevan recalls. ‘I can’t even remember actually how I found a piece of clear acrylic, but… it fascinated me because it was so…’ – she reaches over and picks up some clear acrylic – ‘when it’s rounded… it’s like a cat’s eye. You put the pattern on the back: oh, the affect when the light shines onto the back part of the piece!’

Acrylic bangles; Ocean Range round box bag; one of Klevan’s necklace designs; Smoky Blue round box bag

Klevan then holds up one of her acrylic bracelets, which is beautiful with smooth rounded links. The ‘cat’s eye’ pieces create optical effects with the vibrant colours and patterns that sit behind it. ‘It’s fascinating,’ continues Klevan. ‘And then you can see other colours in the side of it and you can look through it and… it’s actually fun. It’s fun to play with.’

Acrylic bangles; Ocean Range round box bag; one of Klevan’s necklace designs; Smoky Blue round box bag

Returning to the subject of working with her son, Klevan talks about the energy he brings and credits him for seeing a potential in jewellery designs, with many being digitalised for the new venture. ‘Also, I can’t do all these things on the computer that the kids can do now,’ says Klevan. ‘I would never have done it.’

Acrylic bangles; Ocean Range round box bag; one of Klevan’s necklace designs; Smoky Blue round box bag

While GK Style might still be in its infancy, it has Klevan’s incredible legacy to build upon, and I look forward to seeing her spectacular jewellery designs enter the world of interiors.








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