Start the new year in some serious jewels and rock on with Jessica McCormack’s Sins And Virtues collection! We interview the eponymous lady herself….
Tell us about your latest collection?
The new collection is called XIV, which represents the seven sins, seven virtues. Each piece has its own story. For example, the Generosity earrings are white-gold ruby, studded syringes that plunge so that you can wear one short and one long. The rubies represent blood. To give blood is to give life. Yet to others, blood might be seen as aggressive but this is my interpretation of sin and virtue.
Do people buy the piece for their symbolism or beauty?
There is the sin and virtue and then there is the piece. Each piece, be it a sin or a virtue, is unique with its own drawing. For example, the Diligence necklace is made up of a long chain of quatrefoil diamonds and 18-karat yellow-gold bees set with white diamond eyes, whilst the Abstinence bracelet mimics the shackle but with studded diamond detail. People will interpret the piece as they wish. A woman bought the Greed necklace and was not at all interested in what it was called. Then other people have loved the fact that they are buying a sin – there is a story to tell.
Your Wing of Desire earrings set you apart from the crowd and led to celebrity clientele such as Rihanna, Cheryl Cole and Carine Roitfield….
The wing has become iconic. It is such an easy piece to wear. Quite empowering yet very feminine. This was the first piece of fine diamond jewellery that I made. It was the starting point. Inspired by the winged hat and sandals worn by Hermes, who according to Greek mythology delivered the dreams from the mortals to the gods. We have also done the lighting strike – which you wear as one earring.
What is the process behind buying a bespoke creation?
There are two or three meetings that take place. I like to meet people and talk to them. I will discuss ideas with the client and then produce one or two hand-drawings. I can gauge quite well what a client or their partner will like. Bespoke engagement rings are especially important. I will look at a picture of the girl and see what kind of girl she is. An engagement ring is such a loaded thing – full of emotion and promise so it is an extremely important commission.
What do you see in terms of jewellery for Kate Middleton’s wedding day?
The Fridge tiara with a 1920s feel looks modern due to its clean lines. I love clean lines. Strong yet pretty.
And the ring?
I love the sentiment that it is his mother’s, but I would definitely have had it re-mounted. It has an 1980s cluster look. You could clean up the lines and give it a modern feel. For example, round stones into square settings, adding tiger claws and black rhodium.
Who is the Jessica McCormack woman today? Youthful with antique qualities, modern and yet timeless?
She is someone who is powerful and feminine. She knows what she wants. Jewellery is an emotional purchase. The Jessica McCormack woman is one confident enough to say, “I love this, I want this, I am going to have it!”
What about the jewellery itself?
I want my jewellery to reference history – but be right for girls like us – not stuck in the 1800s! This mentality is true of our clients; they have the power and the freedom to go out and buy their own jewellery. Or alternatively, they are confident enough to give an informed leaning on their own jewellery preference. It’s empowering buying your own diamonds, not in a feminist way, but as in “why wait?” I set about creating the collectables of the future and take a stand against disposable culture. You need to be able to be wearing your big diamond wing when you are 80!
Tell me about the concept behind the Salon?
When we arrived at the Salon, it was an old printing press – we put up panels and doors, and added the bookcase as we went. I wanted to create a salon feel – I have always been inspired by Marie-Antoinette, and Andy Warhol’s factory. Warhol used to wear jewels under his clothes and look at them for his own pleasure and Marie Antoniette for her girly, luxurious and care-free – and just a little bit selfish – attitude.
What is luxury?
Time is a luxury and luxury is also being able to wear your diamonds whenever and wherever you want. Not just for black tie couture. Diamonds with jeans!
Do you have a luxury confession?
I love wearing my diamonds when people don’t expect it. But true luxury for me is spending time with my family, with a good book on my Dad’s boat.
We plan on going global whilst maintaining our salon feel. Never creating that intimidating jewellery store feel – jewellery is meant to be tactile, you wear it on your body, close to your skin.