“Some people are superstitious about having a second-hand diamond but I love the romance of a piece that has had former lives.”
Jennie recalls getting onto a ski lift while on holiday in Austria and spotting a woman wearing a pair of earrings she had designed for a major high-street brand. She admits it was a strange experience because she knew nothing about this woman – they had never met. Jennie spent 15 years designing for high street fashion labels before making the transition to independent designer-maker.
This transition, as well as accommodating a growing family, afforded her a much closer relationship with the people who would ultimately wear her designs.
“For the first time I was actually meeting my customers,” says Jennie, “Now I have customers who commission from me again and again. I think that was a missing link for me.”
Stories are important to Jennie’s work. She is drawn to the unique character of hand-cut, natural diamonds and antique stones, some with several lifetimes of stories to tell. “Some people are superstitious about having a second-hand diamond but I love the romance of a piece that has had former lives. There is something so tangibly historic about them”.
Although the appeal of Jennie’s work is as far-reaching as the ski lifts of Austria and beyond, her workshop has always been based in Sheffield.
Her use of Whitby jet reflects her family connections to the North East and her appreciation for more unusual materials. Mostly associated with Victorian jewellery, jet is still collected today on the beaches at Whitby and along the Yorkshire coastline.“It’s really under-used,” says Jennie, “But it’s a beautiful material to work with. It’s very soft so it’s easy to carve.”
Jennie’s spontaneous approach to design celebrates organic shapes and raw textures, gold and silver brushed, burnished or oxidised to create a subtle yet luxurious finish. Her pieces are not ‘flashy’ but they are confidently sophisticated and those who fall in love with them are reluctant ever to take them off.