Miss LF met the darling jeweller and artist in her own right Jessica De Lotz yesterday in her studio full of delights and wonderment, where she hand-makes every personalised piece of jewellery with a romanticised aesthetic since 2009. Located in the very design focused part of London, Clerkenwell, Jessica De Lotz combines great attention to detail, sentimentality within each piece and commerciality, with the aim of making desirable pieces that stand the test of time.
Miss LF: How did you find your brand?
Jessica De Lotz: I started making jewellery from finding this vintage handbag in Camden, when I got home I found all these contents inside belonging to a ‘Daisy Hooper’ including a photograph of her and her friends which inspired me to make jewellery for this person. I’ve been making jewellery for her for the past seven years even though I don’t know her, it started at my second year of Saint Martins when we were given a mourning brief, so I made sentimental pieces for her – she gave life to my jewellery. So I thank Daisy for everything.
All the contents of her handbag inspired pieces of my collection, like this photograph, assuming it’s of her bedroom that’s how I started making the props like the light switch rings and I used ephemera within the pieces, it just involved me getting a magnifying glass and observing what was there.
So aside from Daisy Hooper, who would your ultimate JdL girl be?
I do love Helena Bonham Carter who has worn some of my pieces before, I think she’s a good advocate for me. Otherwise Elsa Schiaperelli.
I am fascinated by your tendency to conceal things in jewellery, like the Red Relished Apple pendant with the Diamond worm which you wouldn’t know was there unless it was pointed out. What makes you want to hide things which are generally thought to be shown off?
It’s something I’ve always been in interested in, I based my dissertation on the Japanese art of concealment. It wasn’t to do with design so much, rather than the packaging itself and how it’s been used like how they would wrap up a bunch of grapes and the contents would actually be less than the wrapping itself which is quite an inspiration to how I make jewellery. As a result of seeing how they wrap things, I would hope that my work is luxurious and high end especially with the finish personal touches that I give to all my customers so it’s personally made for them. It takes them to that place I was in while I was making it.
Going back to Daisy Hooper, I wasn’t doing my degree to be a prop maker so I had to make them jewellery based. I like the cunning aspect of ‘designing against crime’, hiding it and then it converts so its just for you because only you knew it was hidden from everyone else. I believe function in beauty is important.
Your bestsellers are interestingly the Wax Seal Signature pieces, why do you think customisation is so big now?
We all like ourself, it’s quite egotistical really. We are all quite proud to be wearing our own initials, if not be romantic and wear your partners. I also think in terms of gifts it’s an easy one, but personalisation at the moment is just key. Wax seals often have a wonderful romanticism there, much like a memory people can hold onto and it’s relevant in their own mind, even though they don’t write letters which is another thing that holds more of a precious tone because the whole writing letter thing has gone out the window, it’s something we can relate to.
If I didn’t have it, I would probably do more exhibitions and shows and be more of an artist, rather than a ‘selling jeweller’.
In that case, would you say you’re part artist and part jeweller?
Yeah that’s what I like to think of myself, I’m not just a making robot.
Of course not. Speaking about the creating side of things, how long is your ‘making of’ process?
It usually takes me about two weeks, but I can really push it if I have to. Everything is made here and now apart from the casting and plating which takes place in Hatton Gardens. I was thinking about this earlier, when someone asks you to do something quickly you feel like it’s the singular most important thing in their life at that moment so I’m like ‘yes, of course I can do it’ and end up taking on this really big role, my customers are like part of the family of my brand as everything is so personalised. People come back to me because I had their signet stamps made, like a portion of their history which can be re-used for them and their family.
Especially now I do the ‘Jewellery For Life’ service with my brother who does Graphic Design, he works with the customer to design their coat of arms and then he sends it to me to make it into a pendant.
What does luxury mean to you?
For me, luxury is something noone else has it doesn’t have to be something amazingly expensive but something thats really well made and bespoke. Something that was made entirely for you.
I love how refreshingly and unashamedly romantic your jewellery is, where do you think that side comes from?
Without sounding really cheesy, I just think I’m very much in love and that’s made me a more sensitive person. I get more emotional about things now than I ever have done. My husband and I have been together for a long time and we’ve had really good and really hard times and it softens you up. So yeah, being in love, being with Nathan and having a wonderful family.
How do you find running your own business coupled with married life?
My husband is cool about it, because he’s in a band so he’ll be on tour for six weeks, we’re both self employed so it works really well. Plus he’s Canadian and really chilled out, we have a good balance – it’s taking me some time to step outside my workshop on a friday night and not feel guilty about it.
I’m seeing a lot of influences from different decades like 40’s wartime, Victorian and a hint of 30’s nostalgia in your studio, how would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic, colourful and playful.
Which era would you have most liked to have been a part of?
I would love to have lived in the roaring 20’s and been a flapper girl. Craftsmanship wise I love the Victorian and Edwardian times, the detailing and creating of that time is absolutely amazing.
What’s your luxury fix in your collection?
The functioning handcuff jewellery, as they’re interchangeable and you can open up with the key so it becomes a bit of a show when you put them on.
My luxury fix is being able to work for myself, like every thursday I go to Spitalfields market and go hunting for new things that inspire me and making it into something else. That for me is a luxury, as well as spending time with my family – we’re very close and supportive of each other.
What’s your favourite piece of jewellery from your collections?
Definitely the light switch ring, it’s functional you can put it up on the wall or wear it as a ring.
Any other jewellery designers you would wear?
I absolutely love Momocreatura
That’s quite a contrast to you as her jewellery is quite dark..
I love mourning jewellery and those kind of things, I’ve even done taxidermy before.
Wow! Tell me more about that
I did a class for my shows really, I’ve taxidermied a squirrel looking really cute, I have no problem doing that again. I’m always looking out for new jewellery displays so I use ‘Jim’ the Squirrel at all my shows. He sits cross legged and nibbles away at one of my Red Relished Apple Necklaces. Show off! It makes the display fun and brings people to your stand so they can have a little giggle, it tells a whole new story. Taxidermy can be horrifying sometimes but I like to make mine cute.
Amazing, what other hidden talents do you behold?
Ah another yoga fan! What do you like about British design?
I am fully British, my surname De Lotz is Dutch from a few generations back. I think most of the commissions that I’ve done are quite British like with the Smythson collaboration, the subject of the brief was actually the English Monarchy so I think that has influenced where my work has been taken from there on.
Where things are relevant to you, you start collecting and that sparks something else. I like the Regal element, not the modern commemorative memorabilia but from the 1800’s up its very beautiful so it’s all about the workmanship.
So if you moved away, how would that affect your work?
I have a strong sense of identity so I don’t think that would matter, it’s very much ingrained in the person I am.
I’ve noticed you use a lot of black diamonds in your jewellery, do you have a preference?
Well anyone can have a white diamond, I find the black ones are more intriguing.
Do you have any plans for using other coloured diamonds in future?
Yes, that will be in my next collection so keep your eyes peeled!