You moved away from home at a young age to South Africa, how did this influence your career?
Mama Africa swept me up from London's grey streets and breathed life into me. From the warmth of her red dirt, to the coloured plastered walls of the townships - she is beautiful. When you see the vibrancy and life in Africa - as a designer, you cannot fail to be inspired. Gold and Diamonds grow in her depths and Rich Spessertine Garnets spill from her surface. These minerals form my work - from deep greens to the honeyed gold- you can see how much I love her.
On the website it says your Grandfather was a calligrapher, how have you incorporated this in to your designs?
I never met my Paternal Grandfather. I was left though with pages of script he wrote to my Grandmother....arching strokes of ink that I treasure. Yellowed pages that may just hold a single 'B'...but mean so much to me. I wanted to create stories in my collections - so my own love letters fell into the path of my blade and I drew out their characters in gold. My clients now tell me their own stories, which are smuggled into the lines of each design.
When did you begin your own company? How did you get to the point where you knew you wanted to start your own company and make your own designs?
My company launched in 2005, but I was unable to leave my freelance design work that supported it until 2010. I took valuable lessons from other goldsmiths and in particular, my time at Bulgari shaped my eyes.....the beauty of coloured stones and the fine detail crafted into their vintage works is just impeccable. I worked in tandem with a wax carver in Milan whose skills truly evoke the word 'master'. His painstaking attention to detail taught me to consider that the beauty of a piece of Jewellery must be considered from all angles. After this experience, I had no desire to design Fashion Jewellery. I found it wasteful and disposable....and would rather take the time to craft a fine piece that can remain in your family for generations and hold its original sentiment. I was left with a hunger after these years in Milan and London - to create bespoke works for those unable or unwilling to be entertained by the ateliers of Bond Street, but who understood the craftsmanship of a handmade piece.
I remember you said that you make your own jewellery what is the process when someone comes to you for a consultation to the finished product?
I offer free private consultations over a nice big cup of coffee for my clients to talk over any questions or concerns on budget, lead time or design. Next, I can walk them through the process of selecting and securing their stone via a private consult at the trade-only London Diamond Bourse - advising without bias until they find the one. Then I sketch out lines and forms till we achieve the correct design for them. Finally I prepare models and advise on form and fit until they are happy with their custom made piece.
What was the first piece that you made for someone?
I made a Silver rosary. A hand-pierced cross that swung delicately from Sapphire beads and lay down the length of your spine, from an engraved silver necklace.
How do you incorporate their vision of the ring to the piece itself?
Moodboards tie the dreams and expectations of the client to my pen. I ask them to digitally build me a board of the things they love. You cannot design an original piece from merely looking at existing pieces of jewellery, so I ask them to look with me, into their environment, for forms that comfort and appeal to them. They can show me the undulating line of of a car bonnet.....an unfurling leaf....I then translate these curves into the form of the ring.
How do you think your designs are different to engagement rings that someone could buy in a shop?
The mass production needed to create a singular design that is identical across all stores means that all pieces are going through a factory level casting process. This often results in porous metal, that has not been hand drawn and tempered - it is simply not as strong, nor as long lasting. Each of my pieces are handmade and my clients can tell not only by the weight, but by the quality of finish.
Where do you get your inspiration for the pieces?
Often, women's bodies. The sharp curve of a collarbone, or the soft dimples of your lower back. I appreciate the fluidity of a woman's form and if you look at both Car Design and the sweeping curves of contemporary Architecture, these lines are recognised here too. The sweet detailing of an Aston Martin DB9, or a Bentley Mark VI is extremely feminine, yet the structure is still there - they both retain their purpose. That is my goal - to combine soft lines, with strength. Jewellery does not need to be hard or angular to support stones. My jewels are most often worn by women - so should the pieces not sit comfortably with their body?
Why do you primarily use platinum and rose gold for your jewellery?
When I use white diamonds, Platinum is the strongest white metal to support them. It gives me tensile strength, whilst enabling me to keep the metalwork fine. Whilst perfectly bright and malleable an alloy to use for pendants and earrings, I do not see the sense to use White Gold for rings - when it requires repeated maintenance to re-rhodium the alloy. No bride wants to constantly have her ring taken away to be re-plated! Rose and Yellow gold are the same hue, cut all the way through and merely deepen in their richness of tone over time. I love this about them and Rose Gold in particular, is an extremely flattering tone for many of my client's skin. Your jewels should compliment your natural beauty...for example,if you have blue eyes - wear Natural Aquamarines on your ears - your eyes will only look brighter. Deep Chocolate Brown Diamonds look stunning set into Rose Gold on brunettes and fine, pierced Platinum on alabaster skin is insanely beautiful.
What do you see for yourself in the future? And where do you see the company going?
To have my name over the door of a tiny atelier would be my dream. Perhaps in Paris? Cape Town? Contrary to most business owners, I don't want to take on investors and grow huge - the pressure is too high to create a commercially viable collection - limiting my clients to the choice of 6 mass produced designs that lie on the pages of a well thumbed lookbook....That's just not me. I like that my client's know that their ring was made just for them.
If you could also let me know where you are based?
I work in purpose build workshop in Crafts Central, found in a sweet cobbled square in the heart of Clerkenwell, right next to the Diamond District of Hatton Garden.