This week we met with London jewellery designer Hattie Rickards, at her favourite London meeting spot The Royal Academy of Arts. Tucked away in a private room filled with paintings, furniture and objets d'art, we marvelled at the rich coloured surroundings Hattie had chosen to show us her collection of bespoke engagement rings she had managed to borrow back from kindly clients for the day. And how lucky we were...a selection of some of this exclusive designer's finest pieces, miniature masterpieces of colour and design, using bright, bold gemstones and smooth lines of 18k gold and platinum. Launching her own brand - Hattie Rickards Jewellery - after a solid career working for kaleidoscopic maestro Solange Azagury Partridge amongst others, Hattie has delved deep to find her own niche in the crowded market of fine jewellery brands. Spotting early on the increase in demand for exceptional, hand-made bespoke engagement rings, Hattie concentrated her efforts into creating a brand that offered not only incredible craftsmanship and a luxury product, but also brought ethical processes and materials to the foreground, displaying a sensibility and heart to the pieces that can sometimes feel missing from luxury jewellery.Strong colour remains a constant throughout most of her work, and she finds she can use it to 'push boundaries, and make the piece more unusual.' Unexpected pops of colour, clashing hues and strong lines all make for bold pieces, but a sense of refinement and luxury always remains - they may be bold but never feel bulky, and are very comfortable to wear. Baguette cut stones feature widely in Hattie's designs, and details such as channels of diamonds set on the sides of the rings allow beautiful views from all angles. She is self-admittedly very 'single minded' when it comes to research and inspiration. Refusing to follow the work of her contemporaries, and completely dismissing trends and fashions, she prefers to remain instinctive about her direction and style. 'Being a working Mother I find that I am relatively time poor, so getting to galleries and exhibitions has become more of a challenge and I think I now rely on what is within me more than ever,' she says. 'Visually I enjoy looking into patterns of nature - more precisely the structure within nature, which then leads me onto architecture; bold shapes and patterns, streamlined shapes that are strong and impactful.'Developing personal relationships through working on family commissions and engagement rings clearly gives her the most pleasure as a jewellery designer, and the painstaking process of working with her team of craftsmen, suppliers and makers is hugely important. Initial consultations are informal and light-hearted, with the client being given 'homework' to amass a 'mood board' of images from their life that they life and are inspired by; like fashion, style, and holidays, as well as the existing jewellery they own and love. Coaxing them into feeling relaxed and confident in their choices allows Hattie to pull out design directions from otherwise reticent clients who feel nervous about the process.
It is obvious from speaking to Hattie that this intimacy she develops with her clients is a huge driving factor for her when it comes to designing bespoke engagement rings or commissions, the challenge of pulling and extracting ideas from someone who doesn’t always know what they actually want is a process she finds very exciting. A naturally intuitive designer, the pleasure derived from seeing the client’s reaction after she presents the finished piece is something she thrives on. Hattie also reworks existing, often vintage pieces of jewellery. This is a fantastic way of recycling materials, using existing stones and metal from a piece that might otherwise have been unworn or hidden away, kept only for sentimental reasons. Breathing new life into old jewellery is one of Hattie’s skills and also aligns with her ethical values and sensibilities when it comes to gemstones and gold, a murky industry with little (albeit increasing) transparency. Within the painterly surroundings of the Royal Academy, all of Hattie Rickards' jewellery resonates with the feeling that great levels of care and love go into making each and every piece - and they feel weighty, substantial, and worthy of becoming future heirlooms. Brave and bold with each new design, she understands her clients and works in a collaborative way to allow them to feel part of the process, resulting in jewellery that has a strong sentimental core, yet never feels overbearingly so. A modern British fine jewellery brand at its best.
All images by Emma Hare, shot on location at The Academicians Room at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.