10 QUESTIONS WITH TESSA PACKARD, CONTEMPORARY FINE JEWELLERY DESIGNER
We were blessed to catch up with the lovely Tessa Packard, creator of contemporary fine jewellery brand Tessa Packard London. Launched in 2013, the label has fast become internationally recognised for designing eclectic bi-annual collections that celebrate both individuality and storytelling. We are a massive fan!
1.) What led you to pursue a career in the jewellery industry?
As a teenager I had a pipe dream to be an accessories designer. After university I immersed myself in the commercial art world, believing that it would satisfy my many artistic cravings. Whilst it was a wonderful and enlightening training ground for working in the luxury sector, the lack of ‘pen to paper’ creativity never scratched that drawing itch, and after four years I decided to start my own business in the design world. Jewellery as a medium seemed like the perfect fit. As someone who had always drawn and sculpted at school I saw jewellery as sculpture in miniature, with all its endless material possibilities.
2.) Where is Tessa Packard jewellery made?
All in the UK, predominantly in London but also in Birmingham.
3.) Can you talk us through your process for bespoke commissions from the initial consultation stage?
The initial consultation stage involves a lot of questions: who is going to be wearing the piece? Is he or she conservative or avant garde? Do you wear earrings or find bracelets uncomfortable? What is your budget? At this point I will often show the client a range of comparable jewellery from different eras, just to try and get a sense of what they like. If I am consulting with the end wearer then the initial consultation process is relatively straightforward. It’s amazing how instinctive a client is when faced with two images of a ring and asked to choose which one they prefer, even if their opening line to me is “I have no idea what I like”. Naturally, it takes a little more time and perseverance to ascertain what a ‘ghost’ client will like - you often really have to rely on the testimony of their partner / mother / sister etc if you don’t know them yourself.
Once a brief has been established I will then go away and design between 5 to 10 variants of the piece. This usually takes me anything from a few days to a week, depending on the urgency of the commission. The client will then feedback on the designs, either in person or via email, and the selection is whittled down to one or two designs. If they don’t need tweaking, I will then collaborate with my stone dealer and workshops to calculate the manufacturing and stone costs (double checking - of course - that that piece falls in budget). Assuming all is in order the piece is then commissioned and we get to work making it!
4.) Do you have a favourite material or stone type you like to work with?
18ct yellow gold; all carved gemstones; and unusual materials such as bone and porcelain, especially when paired with fine metals
5.) Can you tell us a little about your new 'Emperor's New Clothes' collection?
Emperor’s New Clothes is a collection that explores the idea of illusion and irony through form. We used colourful enamelling and artful sculpting to re-create gemstone shapes in non-mineral materials, giving individual pieces the appearance of record-breaking, high carat weight rocks. As a jeweller who has always preferred to concentrate on unique design rather than carat weight, this collection was in my mind a particularly apt representation of my on-going desire to subvert the visual norm through humour and juxtaposition.
6.) Jewellery is incredibly personal and special to the wearer. Do you have a piece of jewellery that you hold particularly close to your heart?
A pair of diamond and pearl earrings my father gave me for my 21st birthday.
7.) Your collections are incredibly playful and unique, yet also very wearable. What do you do to generate fresh inspiration for new jewellery collections?
Everything and absolutely nothing - ideas come to me in the oddest of places, talking about the most mundane of subjects. The world is wonderfully colourful in a myriad of ways and I don’t believe you have to look very far to find inspiration.
8.) What do you like to do in your spare time when you need a calming day away from work?
Walk my dog in the wilderness and drink cold white wine
9.) You have a wonderful showroom in Chelsea. Can people visit or book an appointment to meet with you there?
Clients can either just drop in or choose to pre-book an appointment. We recommend the latter if they wish to discuss bespoke commissions.
10.) How can you sum up the overall brand ethos of Tessa Packard in 3 words?
Juxtaposition; fairy tales, curiosity cabinet.