NIKKI PARKINSON chats to the jewellery designer behind Lydia Jewels, Lydia-Jane Saunders.
When did your love of accessories, and jewellery in particular, develop? I’ve always loved jewellery, handbags and shoes. Even as a young child, you’d find me walking (or should I say clomping) around the house dressed in my mum’s shoes, all her necklaces and a bag that I could barely carry! At that point, I never dreamed I would turn my love of accessories into a career.
Where has your career taken you? I’ve been so lucky to forge a career in not only jewellery design, but as a freelance stylist too – I get the best of both worlds and I’m always immersed in fashion. I started out with a communications degree and interned at Marie Claire, where I completely fell in love with the fashion cupboard and realised my calling as a stylist. My work as a stylist has taken me all around the world, including London where I freelanced and assisted the Telegraph’s fashion director Hilary Alexander. It was while working at Instyle Magazine that I accidentally fell into creating my own jewellery line, after a necklace I had made was put in a shoot. A boutique then called me to find out more about the collection, and Lydia Jewels was born!
You still work as a fashion stylist … where do we see some of your editorial work? My work as a stylist is so varied – I love everything from fashion to still life, homewares and furniture. Editorial-wise, you’ll see my styling in everything from Noise, Total Spec, and Women’s Health to Handyman magazine. I’m very excited because I’m just about to start Bridal styling for private clients in Sydney – check out my stylist website www.lydiajanesaunders.com.
What was your first piece of jewellery that you owned – and really loved to wear? My first piece of fine jewellery was a gift from my parents – a gold bear from Cartier that I wore every day. I’m keeping it in pristine condition to hopefully give to my daughter one day.
How did you learn your craft? I am completely self taught – I’ve always loved crafts and my creativity was encouraged from an early age. In fact, my first collection was horrible and it’s really embarrassing to look back at. Now I’ve had years of practice and am a lot more satisfied with my collections.
Describe the woman who loves Lydia jewels? Lydia Jewels ladies are not afraid to embrace their feminine side – they want to feel beautiful and glamorous whether they are walking the red carpet or weekend lunching with friends. They adore colour and intricate details, and have a completely individual style.
What sets your collections apart? It’s very rare to find an Australian jewellery designer that hand makes their collections in Sydney, rather than shipping them in from overseas. I’m so proud that every Lydia Jewels piece is handmade by myself and my assistant in our studio in Surry Hills. The attention to detail and quality is perfect, and our designs are definitely not mass-produced.
Tell me about your new spring/summer 2009 collection… My new collection is called Sunset Boulevard and captures the colours, romance and glamour of a gorgeous sunset. I’ve referenced the famous Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood by naming each piece after old and modern screen icons – such as the Audrey drop earrings in silver with pink jewels, adorable Milla brooches in the shape of a swan, the lavish Scarlet gold necklace with leaf pendant, and the tinsel-town themed Natasha necklace with diamante bow tie. In contrast to my last collection, A Rose is a Rose, which used a pastel colour palette, Sunset Boulevard features bright jewels, coral and turquoise, with pink and orange as the stand-out shades. It’s a fun, eclectic collection which will complement summer wardrobes perfectly.
Where do you source materials from? I love collecting treasures on my travels, and my materials are sourced from all over the world. A favourite past-time of mine is hunting through markets and vintage stores, finding antique pieces that can be taken apart and used in my collections. The crystals I use are only ever Swarovski, and my semi-precious stones are mainly from Queensland and Singapore.
What are some of the common mistakes that we make when wearing jewellery? I’m personally not keen on a necklace and long earrings together – unless you have a neck like a swan. A necklace and studs are fine. Some people tend to stick to either silver or gold – but I say there’s no harm in mixing them up. Fashion is all about having fun and you shouldn’t restrict yourself with rules. On the other hand – wearing too much jewellery will just make you look like Mr T. And the important thing to remember about jewellery is that it’s completely trans-seasonal and never goes out of fashion. So invest in some gorgeous pieces.
Where is Lydia jewellery sold? In New South Wales we’re stocked in Bulb Boutique in Double Bay, Becker Minty in Potts Point, Melissa Kritsotakis in Mosman, and soon to be in Valerie Tolosa, Paddington. Customers mainly buy our pieces online from the following sites: http://www.closetprincess.com/, www.stylepalace.com.au, and http://www.lydiajewels.com/. Plus, we’ve just signed up for a stall at Sydney Fashion Weekend in November – we hope to see the Styling You readers in attendance.