Could you please introduce yourself, and describe your work in three
My name is Isabelle and I’ve been working as a goldsmith and stone setter for the last 19 years starting with my apprenticeship in Germany. Now I wear all the hats as the co-owner of a gallery/workshop for contemporary jewellery.
I’d describe my work as minimal, elegant and timeless.
Walk us through your stone selection process. For instance, what’s important for you when selecting the gemstones for your designs?
I’m a big fan of less traditional cuts – mirror cuts, spirit suns and concave cuts spring to mind. As I also do my own setting I focus on consistency of cut; is the girdle the same thickness, is the shape symmetrical, all those little details. Boring, but it helps in the long run.
Do you design first and then look for the gems, or do you tend to buy gems first and design around them? Does it matter to you which comes first?
The gem always comes first, it’s too restricting to work the other way round…
What do you find appealing in a gemstone? What do you look for?
I like punchy colours and geometric shapes, but it always helps if the stone has some character too
Have you ever worked with more challenging gemstones? For instance, stones that have intricate or unusual inclusions, or less common colours or cuts? And if so, how was the design process and how did the clients receive them?
Oh, absolutely. There’ve been a fair few of those. Some have been client stones, handed down and then made into more contemporary pieces by me. It’s amazing how the look of a gemstone stands and falls with the design around it.
Where do you go for gemstone advice or technical/practical information?
I have a very handy book from my apprenticeship days, but my gem suppliers are always an excellent source of information.
Do you prefer to get your gemstones from a UK-based seller, and if so, tell us why?
For bespoke work I prefer to source the gems in the U.K. It means I can see the stones in real life and pre-select before showing the client. I also use a few suppliers/ cutters based in Germany
“I avoid trends at all cost, as it goes against everything I’ m trying to do with my jewellery. A piece should be timeless and still relevant years
down the line.”
Do you also work with overseas gem dealers? How do you find the buying process with them, what’s good/bad and how do you feel about buying gemstones through photos/videos only?
I find myself only ever buying from people I know/ trust and have bought from in the past. I’m quite familiar with their stock and have a good relationship with the dealers, so choosing from photos and videos usually works out quite well. Having said that, if at all possible I’d like to see the stones in real life.
Are trends important for you? How do you think your clients respond to trends? For instance, jewellery/gem trends like teal or peachy sapphires?
I avoid trends at all cost, as it goes against everything I’m trying to do with my jewellery. A piece should be timeless and still relevant years down the line. It should also have something of the wearer in it, rather than follow fashion dictates. Having said that, I still like a peach sapphire…
Is there anything you would like to add that we might have missed or perhaps a fun fact about your role as a jeweller?
I’m not just a goldsmith, stonesetter, etc, etc, but also stylist to my friend’s greyhound Fearghal. He has an excellent taste in jewellery and loves to model it for our gallery Instagram. Bit of a diva, but what can you do…
Dive deeper into her extraordinary collection here.