Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Interview: Jacks Turner of Jacks Design

I first met Jacks back in 2004, whilst working at Bloomsbury Jewellery in Bath. She was the new assistant manager, and lighting up the room, it was hard not get on with Jacks. She and I used to work the weekends together, her imparting indispensible jewellery knowledge my way, me more than willing to learn as much as I could.

After bumping into Jacks exhibiting her own stunning contemporary jewellery at last year’s IJL (International Jewellery London), I felt it was about time to have a bit of a catch up – and give you guys a chance to get to know one of the most down-to-earth yet truly talented designers of today.

Kathryn: So Jacks, tell me more about how you got into jewellery designing and making…

Jacks: Back when I was 16, I knew for sure that I didn’t want to do sixth form, but wasn’t sure what else to do once I’d left school. Back then it felt like most things were out of reach, but I knew that I wanted to do something hands-on; I was good with my hands, I had a practical head and so I knew something like carpentry or engineering would have suited me fine! I started a BTEC Foundation in Art and Design, and although we had chance to use a range of materials such as clay and paints, I found I most enjoyed the metalwork aspect of the course.

K: What happened next?

J: Once I had completed the Foundation course, I moved up to Birmingham and started a degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing at the University of Central England. I found that I enjoyed the hands-on, silversmithing aspect of the course more than the jewellery side. I loved making and forging objects; I made forged candlesticks, which I sold at my first show after graduating. When I left, I stayed in Birmingham and taught jewellery classes part-time at the Midlands Art Centre (MAC) and at Warwickshire College. At the time, I was still making and designing bigger pieces, but had no real idea of what I wanted to do. Eventually I left Birmingham, moving to Bristol in 1996, where Diana Porter offered me a job in her workshop.

K: So you were back working with other metals and precious stones?

J: Yes, and I began to enjoy it much more than before. Over time I started to make some of the more unique, commission-based pieces and as the business grew, I became workshop manager. Over the eight years that I worked there I went on several more courses, attending a platinum masterclass and learning other skills such as stone setting. I finally had an idea of what I wanted to do with my future – I had designs of my own and, reaching 30, realised that it was time to do things for myself. By mid-2004 I had my own workshop in Bristol; I had lots of design ideas down on paper and I was all set to launch my own collection.

K: Big things followed didn’t they?

J: Yes, the next year was absolutely amazing. A friend emailed me about the 2005 Design Innovation Award for platinum, telling me to enter. I thought ‘why not?’, and entered one of my very first designs, the Oval Stacking Flat ring (pictured below)… and I won! It felt surreal; judging were the likes of Stephen Webster. It was so amazing to win, I’d only started designing for myself the year before and here I was with people recognising my winning design. Even today, when I’m at trade shows and people come to see my stand, they remember the winning ring, which is a great feeling!

Jacks' winning design, the diamond-set Oval Stacking Ring, with simple stacking bands:

K: By this time you were working at Bloomsbury, where your designs were swiftly stocked – how have things gone since?

J: Really good. It was great to get my pieces into Bloomsbury. Today I stock in 9 different retailers across the UK, Johnny Rocket in London, Design Yard in Dublin, and Diana (Porter) was more than happy to take on my designs, too. I still take on a lot of commission-based work, something I’m always more than happy to do. I just want to keep on designing and making. I currently work between the new Bloomsbury Jewellery store in Bristol and my own workshop, but this year I want to do some more shows, meet more customers face-to-face. I think building up that personal rapport with customers is of the utmost importance.

K: Absolutely. You describe your work as ‘distinctly modern pieces that compliment both the contemporary and the traditional’ – have you any new designs we can look forward to?

J: Of course! In fact, I have just finished a new collection called the Ellipse range. As is clear with all my pieces, I love simple shapes and forms, clean lines and good proportions. I think the Ellipse rings from the new range (below) really harbour these qualities. I like each piece to be contemporary yet classic – timeless enough and tactile enough that the owner will want to wear it every day. I mostly work with platinum, 18ct gold and diamonds, but I’m enjoying using brightly coloured stones, like in my Cocktail Cups rings. This year I want to maintain the simple shapes, but start using bigger more unusual stones such as andalusite. I’ve got a great idea for combining the colour of andalusite with rich 22ct gold. I’m also looking into getting stones cut especially for my designs, adding much more of a unique, one-of-a-kind feel to each piece.

The Ellipse ring, available diamond-set or in a chic matt finish:

K: Sounds fabulous, I look forward to seeing the new stones! So to finish off, whom do you find an inspiration in the jewellery world today?

J: Oh wow, there are so many great designers out there! I’m one of those people – with this practical mind of mine – who remembers images and not names… But I can definitely list some! I have a lot of respect and admiration for more well-known British talents such as Shaun Leane and Stephen Webster. I think Shaun is so original and I love the daring femininity of some of Stephen’s pieces. I also have a great respect for Malcolm Betts – his use of stones is fantastic; old Victorian diamonds and wonderful natural coloured diamonds. His designs are simple but look amazing. Each piece feels really special. I'm also fond of the American designer Todd Reed; his designs are very distinct, he uses large natural coloured diamonds in yellow gold and the result is a really ancient yet precious feel.

Jacks' yummy Cocktail Cups rings:

So there we are! A little bit about our girl Jacks Turner, surely one of the most deserving talents of the last decade. If you’d like to know more about Jacks' designs, take a look at her site: http://www.jacksdesign.co.uk, or her own blog, http://www.jacksdesign-blog.blogspot.com/

Jacks will also be exhibiting at the Desire Jewellery & Silversmithing Fair, in Richmond, between the 5th and 8th of March 2009, so be sure to catch her there! http://www.craftinfocus.com/

Monday, 26 January 2009

Like Gold Dust

So I guess I should introduce what Like Gold Dust is actually about. After all, you're here reading this now, so you very much deserve to know more!

Like Gold Dust - a phrase used to signify a desirable object's rarity - is a term that I felt encompasses everything to do with jewellery - the focus of this blog.

I don't want to follow the supposed chronology of a blog, instead I want to use this space to introduce, admire, interview and, most of all, show-off just how brilliant the jewellery industry in the UK is today. This won't mean that I only focus on British talent, as I know I will write about designers from around the world, but it does mean that I'll be able to expose some of our best home grown talent - be they graduates emerging fresh faced and full of ideas, or well established designers who deserve a mention for their stunning work.

Currently, I'm in the last few months of an English degree, but I have worked with jewellery for the past six years, both in my home town of Bath, and my current home, London. From my early days of soaking up every page of Retail Jeweller magazine and the then J-Dex (now The Goldsmith Magazine), I have steadily noticed a gap in the online market for a regularly updated, varied space, devoted to to the designers, the trends, the changing scene, the shows and the sparkle.

Seasonal trends, themes and, as above, the possiblity of interviews with various jewellery designers, will all be part of Like Gold Dust's progression. So watch this space - I hope you're truly dazzled by what you see!

Kathryn x