Women designing for women

March 3, 2020

As we approach International Women's Day on the 8th March, meet the designers who are defining Garrard’s house style.

For Garrard’s creative team, jewellery design is a detailed, iterative process, and is one that develops best through collaboration. The team is led by Creative Director Sara Prentice and Head of Design Claire Scott who, in Sara’s words, “have worked together for such a long time, our designs are like finishing each other’s sentences.”

From initial research, through sketches to technical drawings and 3D models, they continually share and assess designs, offering respected opinions that keep an idea moving. “The majority of the time we agree,” says Sara, “And when we don’t, we talk it through and it evolves. That can produce much more interesting ideas.”

The paths that brought them to House of Garrard followed remarkably similar routes. Both knew they wanted a career in design (textiles in Sara’s case, shoes in Claire’s) and discovered jewellery almost by accident. They studied jewellery design at the University of Creative Arts, although some years apart, and, unlike many of their peers, went straight into roles at some of the most prestigious jewellery houses in the world. In fact, Sara recognised Claire’s talent as an undergraduate, and guided her to her first job in a commitment to mentoring young women that continues up to the present day.

This shared background means they understand exactly how jewellery is made. “We’re trained on the bench,” says Claire, “and we’re fortunate to have the workshop as part of the studio. Although our paintings can look like works of art, the design will only work if it can be technically produced.” What drives this process is a desire to create jewellery that women can and will want to wear all the time. The Wings Embrace collection, with it's associations with peace, purity and protection, is a perfect example of this. The ear climbers in particular are statement pieces. “Their bold shape draws attention to the face. It’s a more unusual style but one that is really popular with our clients – the kind of woman who exudes a sense of effortless glamour. For a more everyday extravagance there’s the pendant held on a simple chain.”

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Since joining the House in 2012, Sara has brought a renewed focus on Garrard’s heritage and the wearability of its jewellery. In creations like Queen Mary’s Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara of 1893 - Sara’s favourite archive piece - we see a design of great detail and energy which is also light and comfortable to wear. It remains one of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s most treasured heirlooms, not least perhaps because of its wearability.

From jewels like this, Sara has developed signature touches for the House such as the Windsor Motif, which is inspired by round and lozenge diamond pattern that runs along the base of the tiara and can now be seen in the Albemarle and TwentyFour collections. In this endeavour, she has been supported by Claire’s interest in researching the history of the House. “It’s amazing to work in the place that has created some of the famous jewels in the world. We never stop learning, there are so many stories about the people, the occasions and the stones themselves.” These jewels include, of course, the royal crowns and sceptre that the House reset, redesigned and even created from scratch in its role as Crown Jeweller.

The key to designing timeless pieces for today is an understanding of modern women’s lives. Versatility is part of that equation. For example, the Princess Tiaras are lightweight and comfortable, and include removable centrepieces that can be worn as pendants at less formal occasions. “Everything we do is designed to be worn, to be seen, and to feel comfortable in,” adds Claire.

It is this balance of heritage, wearability and timeless design that has set a course for Garrard that will continue to yield exciting results for anyone passionate about jewellery.

"Our jewellery is about giving people more choice and making it more relevant to the way we live our lives now" Sara Prentice Creative Director
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To view a piece, collection or to discuss a new commission you can visit Garrard in London or Shanghai.

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