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Boodles Head Of Design, Rebecca Hawkins, On Exquisite Jewellery

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Boodles head of design, Rebecca Hawkins, tells ROSALEEN MCMEEL how she turns her passion for gemstones into exquisite jewellery.

Rebeccaca Hawkins’ friendly and approachable demeanour reveals little of the weight of the daily responsibility that lies in her creative hands. As head of design for Boodles, a leader in luxury jewellery design, she oversees each new collection, bringing it to life. Her talent, dedication and passion for perfection ensures the famed jewellery house, established over two centuries ago, has an outlook and vision that is as relevant and covetable today, as well as a bright outlook for the future.

WHAT LED YOU TO JEWELLERY DESIGN?

“I grew up in a creative environment and developed a strong interest in textiles, ceramics and jewellery. My aunt, who worked in the art world, was very influential in encouraging me. As a young child, I remember trying to make my own diamonds; when raindrops collect in the centre of a lupin leaf, it is reminiscent of a diamond, so I would pick them and put them in the freezer. The experiment failed, but maybe that was the start of something.”

WHEN DID YOU REALISE YOU COULD TURN THIS INTO A CAREER?

“I flowed into it, really. I had no other career in mind other than one in art and design. I took an art foundation course, and a tutor, noticing my preference for three dimensional design, pointed me in the direction of jewellery.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE STONE TO WORK WITH?

“I can’t pick one favourite – there are so many truly beautiful gem stones. My natural preference, though, is for the blues and greens, tanzanites, tsavorites, aquamarines, green beryls and, of course, diamonds.”

BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?

“I love being on the trail of a new idea. It is really exciting when all the elements fall into place and the design starts to take shape, then trying it on when the goldsmith has completed the final stage and the idea is now a finished piece of jewellery.”

“Beautiful things always endure, and style transcends fashion, so select pieces that reflect deeper trends and remain true to your own look and personality.”

DO YOU THINK IT’S MORE CHALLENGING FOR WOMEN TO RISE TO THE TOP IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

“No. At one time, perhaps, but now women are playing an important part within contemporary jewellery design.”

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUNG WOMEN PURSUING A CAREER IN THE JEWELLERY INDUSTRY?

“Be passionate, focused, and take every opportunity that comes your way.”

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR IDEAS FRESH?

“I am inspired by lots of different things – patterns in nature, art, architecture, words, poetry and music, so I am always making notes and taking photographs to refer back to. You can’t make a date with serendipity, so you need to be always open to ideas. That said, I will also attempt to formalise the process by seeking out inspiration. I have favourite haunts – bookshops, galleries, museums – that I like to go to.”

ANY TIPS FOR EMBRACING JEWELLERY TRENDS, WHILE ALSO INVESTING IN FOREVER PIECES?

“Beautiful things always endure, and style transcends fashion, so select pieces that reflect deeper trends and remain true to your own look and personality.”

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ANY TIPS FOR PACKING JEWELLERY?

“It’s essential to separate each piece so they are protected from being marked by one another. With larger pieces, such as a very flexible long necklace, wrap it while it is extended before curling it into a smaller pouch. With more structured pieces, like a collar necklace, a soft covering within a hard outer case is best – you don’t want the necklace to move around within the box, so sufficient soft packaging is needed to keep it secure; but never squash the lid down – a structured necklace is shaped to fit the neck in a particular way, and too much pressure can strain the joints and affect how it looks on the body.”

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF PRODUCING FINE JEWELLERY?

“The aspect of longevity, creating something that is relevant for today that will also prove to have an enduring beauty. Also, remaining true to the vision of the aesthetic, and balancing that with the technical demands and the needs of the wearer.”

DOES FASHION INFLUENCE YOUR WORK?“

All design disciplines can influence each other. I am more inclined to look towards art, culture and the natural world.”

DO YOU HAVE A MOST TREASURED ITEM IN YOUR PERSONAL JEWELLERY COLLECTION?

“My Raindance ring. I designed it 16 years ago, the same year my son was born, and in 2010 it was selected by the jewellery curator of the Victoria & Albert Museum to showcase in the jewellery gallery as an enduring icon of British design.”

WHAT’S THE ONE PIECE OF JEWELLERY WORTH INVESTING IN?

“I have to defer to our director, Jody Wainwright’s view on this. He believes a higher risk investment is a green diamond. South American truer greens are incredibly rare and have yet to be realised in the same way as pinks, blues and oranges. Playing it safer, now might be a good time to look at 5ct + D flawless diamonds.”

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This article originally appeared in the November issue of IMAGE magazine, on shelves nationwide now.

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