What is Holts Academy?
Holts Academy is a specialised school in the heart of London’s Hatton Garden. We focus on jewellery manufacture, and I teach two-dimensional design.

Has jewellery design moved entirely to computers?
It has certainly become a big factor in the jewellery world, but computer software has been around for a long time. Computers can simplify the process, but also limit the imagination. For some things – say a wedding band – there’s only so much creation you can do as it is a continuous circle. However if you have a collection of your grandmother’s jewellery and you want to take it to pieces, redesigning it on the computer can actually be quite stifling. You want to be able to sketch ideas first, put ideas together, develop them and then start modelling.



GEM SET AND DIAMOND BROOCH, CARTIER, 1950S. ESTIMATE: £4,000–6,000.

Would you say jewellery design is an art form in its own right?
It is absolutely an art form, and you have to have a natural artistic ability because everyone, every artist, has their own style. For you to imprint your own style on your jewellery illustrations means there is some kind of passion or flair behind it.

What is the process of turning a drawing into the finished piece of jewellery?
We create an illustration to scale, either 1:1 or 2:1. These are then presented to the client who selects the design. Then the piece is technically drawn by the designer where you explode the component so all the intricate pieces can be seen.



A TECHNICAL DRAWING FROM SARAH ARNOLD.

Where do designers seek inspiration for their work currently? Pinterest?
I suppose that’s a pattern book in the same way!

I encourage my students to look at different cultures, so I take them to the V&A, St Martin’s library. They seem to be picking up on different cultures and that becomes their inspiration – one girl chose Japanese pirates.

What makes a great jewellery designer?
You can spot people who really just take it in their stride. They really enjoy the process and play around with ideas. I definitely see some of my students being designers rather than goldsmiths, and others being very successful at both.

Is the use of new materials such as rubber or uncut stones a new development in contemporary jewellery? 
No, uncut stones have been around for a long time, and same with the rubber. If you look at Indian jewellery for example, those pieces are rough cut, and if you look back at the rose cut or mine cut, they are rough cuts in a way – they’re not brilliant cut gemstones.



DIAMOND RING, CARTIER. ESTIMATE: £4,000–5,000.

Fine Jewels

15 March 2016 | London