Colourful but minimal, striking but restrained and precious but everyday, Hattie Rickards jewellery designs are simply beautiful. With an infinite source of inspiration from her travels and wanderlust and a background working with renowned designers before setting up her own luxury jewellery company, Hattie clearly draws from a wealth of experience. After her launch collection Revealed was released in 2010 she was awarded the accolade of 'Bright Young Gem of 2011' by International Jewellery London which was soon followed by her Geo collection, enamel rings and a bespoke fine jewellery service that was launched this year.
Thoroughly interested in Hattie's designs and ethical ethos, I interviewed her about her company,collaborative work and her use of colour.
1. Tell me a little about your history with jewellery and how you got in to jewellery design.
I have always been enthusiastic about jewellery so I studied BA Hons Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins College. It was on this course where I realised that I wanted to turn my passion for design and my unconventional sense of beauty into a career. Following this I spent five fascinating years working for another great British jewellery designer – Solange Azagury Partridge, where I learned about production and business. My final two years were spent helping set up her store on Madison in New York, which was an incredible experience. I returned from New York and realised it was time to launch my own brand - Hattie Rickards Jewellery -which quickly drew an international clientele of jewellery connoisseurs and creative people in their quest for individual fine jewellery pieces.
2. How do you feel about precious pieces being worn daily, do you think they should be reserved for special occasions?
In this day and age, I think it is really important to wear precious pieces of jewellery as much as you can and want. It makes me sad to think of incredible pieces being hidden away until the ‘right occasion’ comes along. I am always encouraging clients to wear everything all the time – treat each day as a special occasion.
3.Do you feel a particular affinity with enamel jewellery when showcasing colour and how do you feel it compares with using gemstones?
Yes I do! I love to put colour into my jewellery. Enamel allows you to achieve hues and vibrancy which just aren’t possible to achieve through stones. I try and bring out enamel piece every quarter as it keeps my work fresh and generates a good response with my client base. Of course, when designing fine jewellery I use gemstones as nothing compares to an outstandingly exquisite gemstone.
4. Despite your collections being extremely unique and individual, they all seem to have a great sense of geometry and clean lines. Is this something you consider when designing?
I initially took a lot of inspiration from the organic world but that has now developed into a more geometric path which produces more structured designs. These can be seen in our GEO collection through the geometric outlines and baguette gemstones. That said my work does seem to attract a lot of architects who either want pieces from the collections or private commissions.
Each collection tends to have a key theme or inspiration, such as Revealed takes its inspiration from the natural world with a playful twist which is demonstrated through dynamic and kinetic designs. GEO is inspired by connection and more importantly the idea of many becoming one.
With my bespoke work, the design contributors are driven a lot more by the client. Sometimes clients start with an old stone from a family piece of jewellery which starts off the design then we make into something new, or sometimes I have a completely blank canvas which will rely on me extracting information about the wearer which is quite an intuitive process which I really enjoy.
I am most inspired when I am clear and happy…. I find that open spaces brings me shapes if that makes sense.
5. How do you feel your moral and ethical beliefs have impacted your work?
My beliefs have impacted my work a great deal and the greatest challenge has been to strike a balance to produce something deeply desirable which is also ethical.
From the start it has incredibly important to me that jewellery is produced with respect for workers and the environment. I decided to create luxury jewellery which had design at the forefront and but that had also been produced responsibly. I want to prove that you can design luxury pieces of jewellery that are produced in a sustainable way. My jewellery is not fully ethical yet but I have decided to start by sourcing sustainable gold and decided that the Fairtrade gold offered the most simple and scalable answer.
My beliefs have also helped develop the close relationships with my makers. It is key that understand how the gold starts it’s journey off in the mines right to the final stages on the bench in the workshop here in the UK. We are on the telephone most days and there are plenty of visits to the workshop making sure that each step of the production is done precisely how I want it. This way I can incorporate that British sense of quality workmanship that is so wonderful into my work. Not only do my clients want a striking and luxurious piece of jewellery but they also want to know about the traceable supply chain.
It is much more of a challenge to make sure that the gemstones are sustainable but I have my supplier in London with strong ethical and environmental policies. HRJ is not perfect, but the aim is to make jewellery from ethically-sourced materials using fair labour practices where possible.
6. After gaining experience in jewellery design and production, what made you decide to launch your own luxury brand?
I think when you have an inkling you just have to go for it! I saw a gap in the market for producing high-end luxury jewellery which has been made in a responsible way. At the time, Fairtrade gold was just launching so I decided to become one of the first 20 licensees in the UK and ride the wave! It just felt the right time to go for it although it’s more a leap of faith into the unknown! Looking back at that time, it was the best decision I ever made.
7. You seem to work collaboratively quite often and are commissioned to make bespoke pieces. How do you feel about working with others and do you feel their ideas enhance your jewellery designing or creative process?
I really love people and if I can combine people with my creativity, then I am very happy! I have found the collaborative projects have provided challenges such as language barriers and different ways of working but these have been completely outweighed by the results that come out of them. Being in different environments from one continent to the next, working in chaotic workshops, experimenting with new and different materials and above all, being able to bounce ideas off so many people which is incredibly inspiring and puts so much energy into your work.
8. What can we look forward to from your future work?
There are various new HRJ designs being worked on at the moment, plenty of private commissions and engagement rings and I am working on a collaborative project with a British fine artist which will launch 2014.
I'd like to thank Hattie for taking the time to answer my questions with such in depth and interesting answers and finish with two of my favourite pieces, Sibling earrings and the Kindred ring. Visit Hattie Rickards Jewellery website for more information and stockists.