Full interview for Forbes.com with Kate Matthams, August 2019.
Kate Matthams - I first came across your brand via your beautiful star sign constellation rings at a LFW showcase. What came first, the desire to make jewellery or an interest in esotericism?
Jessie Evans - I think they've always been intertwined for me. In the early years of my jewellery career I worked for Elizabeth Gage, where I spent a lot of time studying and painting the Roman Coins and Artefacts she uses in her pieces. This led me down the rabbit hole researching the stories behind the imagery depicted in the designs. I think that was probably the catalyst that awoke my passion for story-telling through jewellery design.
Reading about myths and gods is where my idea for the "Constellation" rings was born and from there on in, I’ve made it my mission to discover different methods to hide a deeper meaning through my collections.
KM - Your work features lucky numbers, astrology, hidden messages and symbolism. Should jewellery always carry meaning? Is it art or adornment?
JE - Personally, I find it very difficult to wear or design jewellery that doesn’t have a deeper meaning behind it. I’d liken my relationship with jewellery to that of the Victorians and their mourning and poetically symbolic jewellery, both in sentiment and aesthetic.
You can see this influence in particular in my "Lucky Numbers" and “Fortunate” collections – with the deliberate use of millgrain, blackened gold and belcher chains as a nod to the era, the 'charm' style and trinket-like playfulness of the teacup coin necklace and swapping traditional marquisite for black diamonds in my modern interpretation of the style.
KM - Tell me a little about your creative process.
JE - The short answer is, I think in diamonds! So, something will spark my interest and then my brain will automatically reimagine it in jewellery form.
What really inspires me is the human perspective on things. So for example, rather than the stars themselves, it's the human interpretation of them in astrology that formed the foundation of the "Constellation" collection.
Inspiration for my collections can include anything from fortune-telling, self-care and feminism to architecture, secret codes and the sentimentality of the past.
Alternatively it can quite literally come from people themselves, when it comes to bespoke and engagement pieces it's important to me to include the client in the design process so that we can hide an extra personal element in the jewels.
KM - How did the idea of setting diamonds upside-down to create Braille come about?
JE - Inclusivity is something we should all be more aware of and try my best to remember this in my actions, however small, both in my personal and work life, so I love that this collection could include a vast community of people who might sometimes feel overlooked by the usually aesthetic-based world.
It's a subtle way to hide the messages in plain sight within my designs, readable to nobody but the wearer- Braille is such a fascinating invention and the element of touch is also a much more intimate thing. Sometimes, wearing overtly personalised jewellery can feel too revealing, and this invisible code or indirect suggestion removes any coy embarrassment.
KM- What is the strangest secret message request you have received?
JE - Unfortunately for you, the secrets are safe with me! What I can say is that we've had some giggles and been part of some really lovely heartfelt moments, which is why this collection is such a joy to create for people.