BOOK CLUB: Jewelry’s Shining Stars

The new book that toasts the talent of 38 international designers.

Beth Bernstein has created a new jewellery coffee table book, with a foreward from Stephen Webster, that celebrates the lives and talents of some of the jewellery industry’s brightest designers. Read on to find out what just two of the 38 jewellers featured in the book, Polly Wales and Lauren Harper, had to say for themselves.

Lauren Harper
My entire family is artistic – classical pianists, fine artists, architects, photographers and interior designers – so my life has been built upon a creative foundation laid long ago. My design philosophy has always been a reflection of seemingly insignificant elements that when combined create beautiful, colourful and memorable jewellery that makes a woman feel unforgettable.

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Is there a magical power to jewellery?
Jewellery makes women feel powerful, playful, strong, young and special. How could it not be magical?

How should a woman wear your jewellery?
Often! Instead of waiting for occasions, make every day special by putting on a piece that makes you feel beautiful.

The piece you never take off?
The most recent piece I have designed. I could never be wed to one piece alone!

The most sentimental piece of jewellery you own?
A $10 silver bracelet that my mom gave me in Nantucket when I was about eight years old. It doesn’t fit me anymore, but when I look at it, I am taken back to those happy summer days. That is what I love most about jewellery, that it is associated with a significant moment in life.

The one thing you can’t live without?
The freedom of working for myself in the ultimate of creative endeavours.

Favourite musician?

I design with Vivaldi, do paperwork with Joss Stone, carpool with Taylor Swift and cook with Sheryl Crow. In between it all, I fit in a lot of Broadway show tunes via the non-stop performances of my nine-year-old!

A secret about you?

The chair in my office is missing its fourth wheel. I refuse to buy a new one. It keeps me on my toes with an ever-present possibility of tipping over.

A story about being in the jewellery business?
I was doing a personal appearance at a gallery in a resort town, working with a customer who wanted a necklace from my collection. She was trying really hard to justify treating herself to it. While we were talking, the owner of the store covertly took the customer’s credit card out of her purse, charged it, wrapped the necklace up and handed the customer a signed receipt and a bag. The woman ended up hugging the store owner, thanking her profusely for ‘making’ her buy the necklace, then came in again the next day to buy herself a matching pair of earrings!

A few of your favourite things?
A whole day at the beach building sand castles with my three daughters, singing (loudly) with my daughters in the car, and digging in my garden.

Polly Wales
My jewellery draws inspiration from a range of sources, from the Byzantine period to glorious gypsies. I combine the influences of the details and then recreate them in my own style of design. I embrace serendipity. My designs have a collage-like effect. The technique of setting the stones into the wax and then casting the pieces straight from that process lends itself to a final result that sometimes feels like it is in the lap of the gods. These outcomes are always fuel for more inspiration. I love to work with various colours, and big and small stones in surprising combinations – sometimes mixing things up that even surprise me. I’m also a fan of rose-cut and opaque diamonds, but it’s the detail work that is the designer’s signature. That’s what gives these gems their distinctive look and makes them stand out from the crowd.

Is there a magical power to jewellery?
When I design, I believe in luck – and kismet.

How should a woman wear your jewellery?
In an eclectic mix of what feels best for her. I don’t believe in jewellery as fashion. I believe in jewellery as love.

The piece you never take off?
I often wear pieces from my new collections. I find whatever I wear is the piece someone wants to buy, so my jewellery changes pretty often.

The most sentimental piece you own?

For my 16th birthday, my grandmother gave me a Malcolm Betts sterling silver swivel ring. I never took it off until I’d worn it down. That happened around the same time as she passed away.

The one thing you can’t live without?
My hands.

Favourite artist?
Frida Kahlo would have to be a jewellery pin-up for me.

A secret about you?
I don’t think I have any secrets, I wish I did. I’d like to be dark and mysterious, but I’m too enthusiastic to pull that off.

A story about being in the jewellery business?

When I first started making jewellery, my partner sat down next to someone at Glastonbury music festival who was also wearing one of my rings. They got talking and became friends. That was the moment I felt like I was doing the right thing.

A few of your favourite things?
I have a toddler, so my list has changed from early morning swims and drinking cocktails with friends to flying kites, cuddles and catching frogs! Gazing at beautiful stones… Maybe l have to reintegrate the cocktails

This Book Club was featured in the November issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.



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