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January 04, 2017

Jewellery Designer Jessica McCormack On Her Craft

Text by Nisha Paul

The London-based designer’s fine jewellery is created with nostalgia, emotion and intricate workmanship

When she designed her iconic Wing of Desire earring for her very first collection, singer and songwriter Rihanna flaunted them and skyrocketed the glamorous young designer’s popularity. Her latest standout designs include The Marry Me Love Letter Ring which has a treasure hunt; words set in stone with hidden meanings. The concept is derived from Victorian acrostic rings, which were prized as ultimate love tokens. McCormack’s studio is called The House in Mayfair where treasures are carefully stored in unusual cabinets along with interesting sculptures and furniture designed by The Haas Brothers (who have remodelled homes for Lady Gaga and Versace). Clients are readily transported to a forgotten era when a bespoke service would take precedence.

I grew up surrounded by antiques and art sourced by my father who owned an auction house in New Zealand. So, from an early age I have had an eager and appreciative eye for craftsmanship and design. A specific affinity for jewellery developed after I joined Sotheby’s and met Michael Rosenfeld, a third-generation diamontaire and today one of my business partners. Michael invited me to start designing with diamonds and due to each diamond’s unique personality, character and magic, they quickly became the heart and soul of everything I created.

This was followed by an introduction to and a friendship with Rachel Slack, the great-granddaughter of Ernest Oppenheimer who built De Beers. Rachel has grown up with the talk and love of diamonds. Some of the most beautiful jewellery in the world has been worn by her mother and grandmother at family dinners. A businesswoman and scion of the family famous for its association with De Beers, Rachel had longed to discover glamour and mystique for her own generation — for strong, independent women like her, more likely to dress down than up, yet always in search of the exceptional. Rachel along with myself and Michael Rosenfeld are carrying the Oppenheimer legacy into the future with diamonds as the guiding light.

Everything I create from the smallest to the largest diamond necklace has the same design process and ethos. I am guided and inspired by principles, manufacturing techniques and craftsmanship of Victorian, Georgian and art deco jewellery and I marry these with cutting-edge design and exceptional diamonds.

One of the first stars we dressed was Rihanna. We have been fortunate to work with many strong, talented and intelligent women, one of my recent favourites being Julianne Moore.

India has such an amazing history of beautiful jewellery and techniques. I am most drawn to intricate gold filigree work because of the technical accuracy and patience it takes to create delicate feminine softness in entwined designs.

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