Behind closed doors, London’s leading jewellers are working with their clients to make beautiful bespoke pieces. Whether it be adapting an existing design to suit a client’s needs or creating a completely new piece from scratch, made-to-order jewellery is the last word in luxury. We go behind the scenes to discover the intricate design processes of three talented female jewellers – Jessica McCormack, Ana de Costa and Sabine Getty
London is one of the best places in the world by far to buy jewellery. From the established diamond district of Hatton Garden to the glittering storefronts of Old Bond Street, clients are spoilt for choice. And above the bustling shopping streets and away from the glare of the diamond-festooned display windows, London’s leading goldsmiths are offering bespoke services that take jewellery shopping in the city to unparalleled levels of luxury.
'The degree of contact with clients varies with each individual. I've had clients that like to be involved at every stage whereas others prefer to await the final piece. It’s such a personal journey for each client' - Jessica McCormack
New Zealand-born Jessica McCormack is one of the leading jewellers in Mayfair. She’s known for such imaginative creations as her bespoke Party Jackets: rings designed to sit around an existing piece, transforming and elevating the original. At her stunning art-filled Carlos Place town house, which she and her team refer to simply as ‘the house’, the highly skilled goldsmiths have their workshop on the lower ground floor.
The salon occupies the ground and first floors, and showcases her stunning seasonal collections, including Chi Chi, a collection inspired by the ancient Chinese method of fortune telling, and Trip The Light Fantastic, a glamorous collection of diamond earrings, cuffs, necklaces and rings that move with the wearer, creating an almost hypnotic sparkle.
McCormack also offers a comprehensive bespoke service, working directly with clients looking to create a piece of truly individual jewellery. ‘When working on a bespoke piece I like to spend time getting to know my client personally by sitting with them in our library, discussing their likes, dislikes and getting to know their style,’ explains McCormack of the process. ‘I then spend some time translating their personal story into lots of hand-drawn sketches, while I work out the final perfect design.’
The process is tailored to each person as much as the jewellery is. ‘The degree of contact with clients varies with each individual. I’ve had clients that like to be involved at every stage whereas others prefer to await the final piece. It’s such a personal journey for each client,’ she says.
On the other side of London, in the city’s trendy East End, jewellery designer Ana de Costa works on bespoke pieces for a variety of discerning clients. After graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2005, de Costa worked for Shaun Leane, renowned for designing catwalk pieces for Alexander McQueen, and costume jeweller Erickson Beamon, before opening her own by-appointment-only atelier. ‘Bespoke jewellery and fine jewellery as a whole is a very emotional and personal purchase and I like to take my time with all of my private clients,’ explains de Costa.
‘We discuss initial ideas and the budgets involved as this will form the basis of my initial research into stones and concepts,’ she continues. In-depth research and an easy understanding of customers’ desires make de Costa stand out.
One of her recent bespoke pieces, for example, was an engagement ring for a London-based client. The design featured precious stones that were sourced by de Costa from the bride-to-be’s hometown in Russia. As with McCormack, the whole process from start to finish is tailored to the client. ‘Once the making process is started I have regular conversations with clients to update them on progress and, depending on preference, I send progress shots. However, I have found that a lot of my clients prefer the surprise of seeing the piece at the end.’
Sabine Getty is another of London’s leading jewellers. Her most recent collection, Baby Memphis, follows on from the opulent Memphis collection, but bears the hallmarks of her experiences as a new mother. Featuring a wide range of colourful stones, the collection comprises stackable rings and bracelets, and easy-to-combine earrings and necklaces, all of which give endless potential for different looks.
Getty provides a bespoke service to some of the city’s most discerning jewellery lovers, a process that is often sparked by a client’s reaction to her existing designs. ‘After a collection comes out I usually get requests for a piece that is similar in design but using different stones or using the customer’s stones,’ she explains. When it comes to creating a unique piece, she says, ‘it takes observation and time. One has to listen to what the customer is trying to convey and what they really want. I speak the client many times throughout the process, but it is usually in our first meeting that I get a complete sense of what is desired.’
And it’s seeing the client finally receive their desired pieces that Getty enjoys the most. ‘The most rewarding thing is to see that our client feels they have something special: a piece of jewellery that is made for them and matches their personality.’