Commissioning a piece of silver or jewellery for yourself or a loved one is an exciting and unique experience. Commissioning provides the opportunity to work with a skilled designer to create something for you and your family to treasure for generations to come.

At Elements, you will find 50 of the UK’s most talented makers showcasing their work. Our exhibitors also take commissions, so we asked former Head of Jewellery and Silver at Lyon & Turnbull, Trevor Kyle, to share his experience of commissioning a wine sleeve at Elements 2.



Attending Elements during the first two years, I was taken with the craftsmanship and skills shown by the exhibitors. I had recently purchased a wine sleeve that was originally destined for the melting pot, possibly as a prototype reject, however when I saw it I was intrigued by the shape and its simple design. At this time it was completely plain. I was introduced to Karen Wallace at Elements and the purchase of a pair of beakers led me to really admire her engraving skills, taught by renowned silversmith Malcolm Appleby.

Colin Fraser of RL Christie suggested commissioning Karen to engrave the sleeve and it was subsequently passed over. In Karen’s eyes it was a blank canvas waiting for inspiration. I had a chat with Karen and we agreed that she would engrave things from my life that were important to me. Initially I couldn’t think of things to be included, but after chatting to Karen things did go down on paper for her to work with, the first being the logo of my initials. Some of the other images on the sleeve include the badge and motto for MacDonald, my mother’s clan, so mine as well; the Kelpies; the sun in splendour with the motto ‘Let There Be Light’; an eagle in flight with a ribbon and two medallions attached, one with my logo, the other ‘The Toff’ a character in books by John Creasey who with his other characters gave me inspiration for the arts; and three little fish blowing bubbles with letters forming Ruth, Kier and Colin, very good friends.

When Karen asked me if I wanted to see how it was progressing, I said I didn’t. I think this made her a bit twitchy. I knew that whatever she produced would be high quality. I also believe people who have great artistic as well as practical skill should be given free reign.

So, when we met to do the handover I was speechless when I saw the finished product – it was way more than I expected. It shows Karen’s skills as an engraver amongst the best, but also as a designer and researcher to bring the story together in a flowing manner.

If the house was on fire, the wine sleeve would be the first thing saved.

The Wine Sleeve - engraved by Karen Wallace

The Wine Sleeve – engraved by Karen Wallace

Trevor Kyle