For Garrard’s creative team, jewellery design is a detailed, iterative process, and one that develops best through collaboration. During a nationwide lockdown, collaboration is challenging, yet the tireless enthusiasm and passion of Creative Director Sara Prentice and Head of Design Claire Scott is enabling them to find inspiration in new ways together. Fortunately, as Sara says, “we have worked together for such a long time, our designs are like finishing each other’s sentences.”
From initial research, through to sketches, technical drawings and 3D models, the pair continually share and assess designs, relying now on virtual face to face meetings to offer 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 – even more so when my family try to get involved whilst I’m working from home!”
The paths that brought them to the 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 in London. 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 – even if that means whilst self-isolating. “We’re all in need of some inspiration and positivity to help get us through the current situation and I’m still really enjoying pairing jewellery to outfits at home,” explains Sara. “Wearing jewellery doesn’t only impact the way we look – it influences the way we feel. Wearing the shimmering Fanfare Cascade necklace gives me a sense of such confidence and glamour, even on the sofa, whilst I find that our Wings Embrace pieces, which we designed to symbolise peace, purity and protection, are comforting during these uncertain times. I really hope that the women around the world who own our designs are also finding comfort, joy and inspiration in the pieces. We’re all in this together.”
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 Sovereign Motif, which is inspired by Garrard’s setting of the Cullinan I diamond in the Sovereign’s Sceptre and can now be seen in the Regal Cascade and Fanfare 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 most 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 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.
"I really hope that the women around the world who own our designs are also finding comfort, joy and inspiration in the pieces. We’re all in this together." Sara Prentice Creative Director