The Sunday Summary

This week I've been speaking to one of my favourite jewellery designers, the lovely Harriet Kelsall who kindly let me interview her for The Sunday Summary. Obviously I think that makes her business my Shop of the Week as well - if you find her main range a little out of your budget I highy recommend her Purple Label range, as you know I already have some of their fab earrings!

How did you get into jewellery design?
My dad was a part time jeweller and we had a jewellery bench in our dining room at home. As a young child I was always hanging around seeing what he was up to and I actually made my first silver ring aged 4 (with his help of course!). After school I did an industrial design degree at Brunel University which was a very tough course that taught me a great deal – part of the course included an option to study jewellery design and making which I did with enthusiasm. I also covered environmentally sensitive/ethical design which has been useful too.  I started a career with computer products but my husband set me up a bench in the garden shed and I found myself with a long list of commissions from friends, then friends of friends and finally I gave up my job to start my own company full time.

What qualifications did you have, or would you recommend someone gets, to go into jewellery design?
Design is a complicated discipline and its very important – if you want to do design properly – to know what you are doing, so a course is essential. In my opinion, it is important that the course covers a good understanding of materials and techniques and is quite ‘feet on the ground’.  I only employ degree qualified designers in my company because you can’t design a ring unless you understand how it can be made and whether, structurally, it will hold together.  However our craftspeople are different and brilliant at making the jewellery – in my opinion, they are always better to learn as a goldsmith’s apprentice and not to have gone to university.

What is your favourite thing about designing jewellery?
My company specialises in bespoke jewellery and I absolutely love speaking to each of our customers as individuals – getting to know them, their style, what makes them tick – and designing something perfect for them. Jewellery has a very special emotional meaning, especially when you are talking about something as significant as an engagement ring or wedding ring and its wonderful being part of celebrating something so important an event as one of those. We also have designed, for example, mourning rings which are equally emotional but it is a positive thing to be able to design a ring to celebrate someone’s life.

I recently designed a pendant for Lisa Snowdon which was a Fairtrade and Fairmined gold design set with a garnet. It was for her 40th birthday and garnet is her birthstone The design is based on the Aum symbol – specifically the Infinity or Dream element and the ‘id’ or self element which is represented by the swirl (pictured below and Lisa is wearing it in the image to the right too)

Is there something in particular you like designing more than anything else?
In our company we usually do engagement rings and wedding ring but its great to do dress jewellery for a change and special projects like Lisa Snowdon’s was great. I have a particular interest in Victorian sentimental jewellery and I’ve designed some pieces inspired by that theme and style, for example this ring is inspired by the Victorian tradition of spelling out the word “regard” with the first letters of a sequence of gemstones.

What do you see as the emerging trends for the next year?
I have just been to London Jewellery Week and I noticed quite a lot of wide chunky bangles and some very delicate and feminine lattice work pendants and earrings. It seemed to me that trends were diverging into either very simple (for example simple metal pieces with a little bit of colour) or very ornate with very little in the middle ground. It seems that rose gold is on the increase and a popular colour coming forward is peach.

Wow - so much inspiration!! I'm so gutted I couldn't go along to London Jewellery week as it sounds like there were some really great events on - I'm particularly keen to see different colours other than yellow gold and silver or platinum coming to the fore as my engagement and wedding rings are both unplated yellow gold so are a very pale yellow colour, to complement the champagne diamond in my engagement ring. I also love the idea of the 'Regard' ring, I'd never have thought of spelling out words in this way - how clever! I had also never heard of a mourning ring, and I think it is a truly lovely idea and an incrdible way to celebrate someone's life rather than mourning their loss.

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