Making and designing jewellery can be quite a solitary occupation, especially for smaller brands. Unlike the high jewellery ateliers of Place Vendôme, Bond Street or Geneva, where dozens of designers work together and troops of craftspeople cast, mount, set and polish in the same space, many independent designers work in their own heads, sketching and making gouaches, poring over books for sell my house fast jacksonville inspiration, fiddling with clay or wax prototypes.
Many of these people already worked from home, with the luckiest of them having jewellery benches and tools to keep them busy during lockdown, while others are finding isolation a boon to their creativity, designing with no deadlines and nowhere to go.
I asked jewellery designers and makers to share their creative spaces and thoughts, and the responses were as varied as the individuals themselves.
Hannah Martin, one of the most authentic jewellers of the punk aesthetic, admits she didn’t take to lockdown with total ease. “I spent the first couple of weeks of lockdown in ‘rabbit in the headlight’ phase and found doing anything creative at all impossible,” she admits.
But now she’s keeping busy doing online drawing masterclasses for jewellery design students at Central Saint Martins, and compiling playlists of her beloved punk music to get her through. “I’m both making them and playing them to myself very loudly!”
New York-based Brazilian jeweller Ana Khouri is back on her family’s farm in Porto Feliz, missing her tools and her bench, but throwing herself into charitable causes. “I love working from the farm because I’m surrounded by nature, but I do miss my team dearly and going into the office,” she says.
Fellow Brazilian Fernando Jorge happened to be in Brazil at the start of the crisis, rather than London where he resides, so considers himself fortunate to be staying with his parents near Sao Paulo. “I have found so much time and space for designing and reflecting,” he says.
“I have been sketching with no fixed agenda or deadline, just whatever comes up. Quarantine’s unexpected side-effect was revealing the enjoyable part of my work again – it has turned designing from work back into a hobby.” Jorge has also pledged to donate 20% of all proceeds from sales during April to support global Covid-19 relief efforts.
Winning the room-with-a-view prize is Dior Joaillerie’s creative director Victoire de Castellane’s space in the French countryside. “I am fortunate to be confined with my family in my house in the countryside,” she says. “And lucky to work surrounded by inspiring nature that I see when I look out of the window in front of my desk.”
Less free to be creative is Jessica McCormack, who usually works from her insanely beautiful five-storey townhouse and store in Mayfair, but is now working from home with three children aged five and under. “I’m snatching moments to be creative whenever I can in between entertaining the children and endless Zoom calls with the team,” she says.
It might be why she launched a colouring competition online, with thousands of entries from young and old around the world. She also grabbed a brand new ring from the workshop bench just before locking down, and is wearing it at home to remind her that one day, she will be able to launch the new additions to her Moonshine collection. Meanwhile, one of her craftsmen, Tom, has a bench at his home, and is able to continue crafting new pieces.
Benefitting from having more grown-up children is Boucheron’s creative director Claire Choisne, who is in lockdown at her home in Portugal with a seriously impressive pen collection for designing, and whose daughter Maud Remblier, a motion designer and animator, sent this charming sketch of her mother in design mode.
“I am really lucky to be able to work from my home in the middle of a pine forest in Alentejo,” Choisne reveals. “The nature that surrounds me is a constant source of inspiration, and allows me to focus on creating despite the difficult climate we are going through.”
Also en famille is Stephen Webster, whose home has been transformed through lockdown. “We are extremely fortunate that our house is perched on top of the White Cliffs of Dover with an uninterrupted view across the English Channel,” he says. “The kitchen has quadrupled up as the studio, office, No Regrets lounge and, of course, kitchen.”
His team remains busy, albeit remotely, with his daughter Amy carrying on with marketing and creating content for social media platforms, his jeweller brother David making pieces from his home workshop, and head designer Claire working remotely with him to design and deliver the interior and contents for a bar in Nashville. “Every day provides another challenge that we have to work around,” he says. “Overcoming these has become as satisfying as the task in hand.”
While Florentine-born, London-based Carolina Bucci doesn’t have a workbench at home, she can continue to create endless pieces in lockdown with her glorious Forte Beads range, threading hardstone beads in umpteen combinations onto gold-tipped silk cords to create bracelets, necklaces, and more. She was also one of the first designers to create colouring-in and origami templates to keep everyone entertained at home.
“It strikes me that WFH means very different things for everyone,” Bucci explains. “The reality for me is that working from home looks and feels in some ways a lot like my normal life – a lot of time spent on the phone with retailers and journalists, and I have always preferred designing sat on my sofa or in bed rather than at a desk.
“Lack of social interaction aside, I am quite enjoying it. My jewellers in Florence on the other hand, who are used to making things every day, are going crazy with no productive output for all their skills and creativity, and I myself miss the regular chance to sit with them and work together on new ideas.”
Designer-maker Christopher Thompson Royds has turned his mother’s garden shed in the English countryside into his temporary studio. The artist works with 18kt gold to create wildflower jewels as delicate-looking as snippets of paper, and finished these snowdrop earrings just before lockdown. “The temporary space works well, as everything is in reach. I can literally touch all four walls from the desk!”
Bibi van der Velden has used this time to set up a fund for independent jewellery designers, via her selling platform Auverture. She has designed seven limited-edition bracelets to be released over the coming months, with all proceeds going to the Auverture Designer fund.
“A lot of our designers are Greek and aren’t even allowed to leave their homes. We’ve teamed up with a manufacture who is going to make their designs free of labour charge over the coming months.” Meanwhile, Van der Velden works from a corner of her home in Portugal, weather permitting.
Loren Teetelli, whose jewellery brand is calle Loren Nicole, is based in Hermosa Beach, California, and has a seriously academic approach to crafting jewellery, much of it based on ancient techniques she has studied at university and as a conservator in the anthropology and art departments of The American Museum of Natural History and The Met in New York.
“I’ve been feeling grateful for my community,” she writes. “It has been incredible to have this time to develop deeper connections, welcome people into my space virtually and share what I am doing. I’ve also been taking this opportunity to pause and truly enjoy each and every project on the bench.
“Jewellery is a meditative practice, and I find I’ve been spending a lot of time on granulation projects, perhaps because the kiln keeps me warm with all the rain, but I find it a quiet, focused practice that is mentally calming.”
Jacquie Aiche, whose famed Los Angeles bungalow is HQ for her particular brand of hippy-luxe, laid-back cool, is missing her team, but doing her best to recreate things at home.
“I’ve set up a little studio in a corner of my house that helps me find focus and connect with my creative side,” she says. “Each day, I gather the crystals and minerals I feel drawn to and place them around me. I light my favorite candle and have all of my essentials by my side. I can’t wait to be reunited with my tribe and back to the bungalow, but for now, this feels like the perfect sanctuary.”
She has also created a new collection whilst in lockdown, consisting of chunky beaded necklaces with a central gemstone. “Adorning yourself in these bright colors and raw minerals from the earth can feel like sunshine, so I wanted to spread that love. They brighten your day and just make you so happy,” she says.
And finally, perhaps two of the luckiest jewellers in the world are David and Michael Robinson, identical twins who have a private studio on Australia’s gold coast where the entire process of creating one of their glorious, one-of-a-kind jewels happens on location.
From the initial design and gouache to the actual creation of the jewel, from start to finish, everything is done by the two brothers in a completely private, secluded space. “We’re able to keep working, because it’s just us two,” Michael told me. Pandemic lockdown be damned – these two have got it sorted.
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