Tuesday 19 January 2010

Designer Interview: Laura Gravestock

I'm really excited to bring you this interview with Laura Gravestock, not only because it's the first  interview of 2010, but also because I'm really pleased to have the had chance to write about Laura and her jewellery collections. Having first spotted her designs in @Work on Brick Lane, I noted her name and the next time I passed decided that yep, I needed to write about her on Like Gold Dust. And here we are; a couple of weeks and one interview later, allow me introduce Laura Gravestock...

Laura Gravestock in her Shoreditch studio

Kathryn: So Laura, your career started in fashion; what or who influenced you to take up jewellery design? 
Laura: Well I’ve always loved jewellery and fashion. As a child and I used to go through my mother's jewellery box and wardrobe, trying on her things. After working in fashion accessories for several years I learned that when a woman likes something, she's prepared to pay good money for it. I realised there was a gap in the market for the decadence and opulence of the past, something we're missing on the high street nowadays. Talking to a jewellery designer at an exhibition gave me the push to start creating my own range of jewellery. 

K: You went on to study and train as a goldsmith, and have now launched two of your own collections.  What are they like?
L: My two collections are called "Written" and "Majestic". The Written range started out as personalised necklaces, exclusively sold in @Work gallery. They quickly gained in popularity, so the range evolved to include pieces like my "Love and Hate" rings – a cute, contemporary twist on the classic knuckle tattoos. These, and my cheeky "Call Me" hoops have been my best-sellers. Basically the jewellery does the talking! I take personalised orders, and I’ve had some great requests. My favourites have been an "I Sausage" brooch and a "JetSetSlut" Necklace… I've become un-shockable! (Continued below...)

Laura's Silver 'Call Me' Hoops

...Alternatively, my Majestic range is a more "grown-up". It's given me the chance to explore my love for beautiful gemstones, especially more unusual gems like black sapphires and green amethysts. Each piece in the Majestic range is intricate, designed to mirror jewellery from centuries past. The "Princess" rings have been amongst the most popular pieces; customers say they remind them of tiny crowns, which is the inspiration behind the name. Another Majestic best-seller has been the thread-through earrings, which completely sold out at my last show!

Princess Ring from the Majestic collection, set with Amethyst

Princess Ring set with Citrine

K: I love the opulence of the Majestic collection, especially in its use of such gorgeous faceted stones and the unusual style of the settings. What inspired the designs?
L: I spent some of my childhood living in the Middle East and Spain. I lived in Qatar for three years and was surrounded by beautiful, intricate Islamic architecture. The geometrical fretwork that adorned the buildings has inspired my stone settings. My mother and I would go to the souqs, often buying vivid glass beads and sequins. We made these into necklaces and bracelets for friends and family, which is probably where my passion for jewellery really started. When we moved to Spain I was still surrounded by beautiful architecture, this time with strong Moorish influences. I adore the Alhambra Palace in Grenada; its decadence and the history of the area added to the inspiration I had originally found in the Middle East.

K: You can certainly see those inspirations in the collection. I really like how you've mixed simple bangles with really striking rings and earrings. Did you design the Majestic range with an air of easy-to-wear luxe in mind?
L: Absolutely! The reasoning behind the collection was that I wanted to create beautiful, opulent, well-made pieces of jewellery that could be worn on a daily basis. I also have a strong belief in creating pieces that can become heirlooms – I want my jewellery to have a timeless quality about it that will transcend generations. To me it’s all about getting the most out of your jewellery, and that means you it should be able to take you from a day in the office to a night out with your friends, and for it to last you a lifetime. 

Amethyst Drop Necklace from the Majestic Collection  

Thread-through Earrings, one of Laura's bestsellers!


K: Thinking about work and play, your current studio is based in East London. How does the area, and the rest of the city, influence your work?
L: I love working in East London, it’s such a vibrant, bustling place and there’s always something going on. However, I have two favourite places to visit in London for inspiration; one is the Natural History Museum's Vault, which has a mouth-watering collection of gems and precious metals. The other is The William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery at the V&A, which has one of the best collections of jewellery through the ages – whenever I go I always spot something I hadn't seen previously!

K: I'm a big fan of the V&A, especially seeing who's worn what over the years! Do you have anyone in particular that you'd love to see wearing your jewellery? 
L: Well - I loved her already - but Scarlett Johansson owns some of my jewellery! I met her at @Work on Brick Lane - she was fantastic, really down to earth. I love her classic air, and that she comes across as very comfortable with herself; she doesn’t seem desperate follow trends which is why she perfectly suits my jewellery! 

Super-cute 'Once Upon A Time' Necklace, from the Written collection

K: And what are your plans for 2010 and Laura Gravestock jewellery? Any new collections?

L: I'm going to be very busy I expect! At the moment I'm developing a new collection, which I plan to launch at International Jewellery London (IJL) in September. I want to expand my current collections into other galleries around the UK, and possibly abroad too! I'll also be exhibiting at several shows, to help Laura Gravestock jewellery grow as much as possible.

K: You do sound very busy indeed - and I'm sure the hard work will all pay off! So, to round-up, who are your favourite British jewellery designers? Any hot recommendations?
L: Not that he needs the recommendation, but Alex Monroe is definitely one to watch! I admire how successful his business is, and his jewellery is constantly popping up in magazines everywhere. He’s created pieces that anyone can wear and markets himself well. If I can be as successful as him, I’ll be a happy lady!


Love, Hate and Single Heart Rings from the Written collection

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