For me, my treasured pieces of jewellery are not the most expensive, glamorous or fashionable, but are those that are personal and tell a little part of my story. No man would get down on one knee and say those four little words without the perfect ring in his pocket, but how can a piece of jewellery tell a tale before it has been given? Make way for Hattie Rickards, discovered as a ‘Bright Young Gem’ by International Jewellery London in 2011, her designs have quickly become prestigious in the jewellery world. With a focus on creating exceptional pieces that tell a story, creating the simplest designs which are made into wearable masterpieces, I was keen to learn more from the lady behind the sketches. So I was thrilled (and a little lost for words) when Hattie phoned me from her studio, sharing the inspiration behind her beautifully aesthetic designs and giving those hoping to follow in her diamond studded footsteps some priceless advice.
How did you get into jewellery design?
I have always been enthusiastic about jewellery. This started at school and developed when I studied jewellery design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. I was so grateful for my place on that course and I didn’t skip a day of college during my time there! Following this, I spent five incredibly fascinating years working for another great British jewellery designer – Solange Azagury Partridge before branching out on my own.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?
Each of my collections tends to have a key theme or inspiration. For example, ‘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. I find I am most inspired when I am clear and happy and that open spaces bring me shapes, if that makes sense! Also colour always plays a role in my work.
With my bespoke work, the design contributors are driven a lot more by the client. Sometimes clients will come to me with an old stone from a family piece of jewellery and this starts off the design. We will then work from this and make it into something new. On the other hand, sometimes I have a completely blank canvas, which will rely on me extracting information about the wearer before I start designing. This is quite an intuitive process, but one which I really enjoy.
How hard is it for you to turn those original sketches into a piece of jewellery?
Relatively easy! Once I have got my final design, I pass it onto my makers who are incredibly good at understanding my sketches. The design then gets developed into CAD (Computer Aided Design), a wax is produced, and then it is cast ready for setting and finishing.
What is the best part of your job as a jewellery designer?
The initial stages of the process where I get to sit down with the client and define the brief, before going on to convert that into a design. Extracting information from a person and translating that into a design is where I really shine as a jeweller and I really enjoy the challenges that arise.
What would you say is the hardest part?
Running the back office! The book keeping and general admin is the side I enjoy less, so finding time in my day to invest in it is often difficult!
One of the things I love about your work is your ability to tell a client’s story, how do you make your pieces so personal?
It is down to my empathetic nature and ability to ‘read’ the client well enough so that I understand exactly what it is that they want. A lot of ground gets covered in the design process, which results in an incredibly personal and bespoke piece which the client loves.
What is in the pipeline next for you and your brand?
There are plenty of private commissions coming up which are keeping me very busy, as well as some collaborative projects.
What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Go for it! Having my own business has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever taken on and it can be incredibly consuming and stressful at times, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Do you wear all your own jewellery today? If you had to wear someone else’s who would you wear?
I really enjoy wearing my own jewellery! My frequent favourites tend to be my engagement ring and on my right hand I wear three Eternal Rings stacked up together. It has become much trickier to wear other designer’s jewellery nowadays because everyone is very quick to see what I am wearing, so it would be quite confusing if it wasn’t my own!
Finally, what is the first piece of jewellery you ever made – do you still have it and did you wear it?
When I was nine I made a green friendship bracelet for my brother! Other than that, my first piece with thought was a recycled copper ring I designed at college and hammered into shape – it wasn’t a massive success and sadly I don’t think I have it today!
I hope your brother appreciates he has an original Hattie Rickards!
Hattie proves that when it comes to jewellery design, it is as much about the person as it is the product. If you fancy picking up the sketch pad and having a go for yourself, take a look at the courses on offer and get drawing.