Wanaka-based bespoke jeweller Alice Herald shares her passion for precious gems, how she stays creative and her latest stunning collection Our Song, Let's Fly with editor Trudi Brewer.
In jewellery circles Alice Herald is known as the diamond couture. With a BA Hons in jewellery design from London’s celebrated Central Saint Martin’s, Herald is the go-to-girl for a lasting bespoke piece of serious bling. From that forever ring to a statement piece for after five, her designs have been seen at London Fashion weeks and have graced the pages of Vogue. From her home in Wanaka she shares her philosophy on design, how she finds life balance and her latest collection.
Why did you want to become a jewellery designer?
It is storytelling through art. Tactile sculpture, and adorning the body to evoke emotion has always fuelled my creativity. And in my career, it happens to have expressed itself in jewellery design.
From St Martins and Mexico and now Wanaka, how did you get to settle and start your business in the South Island?
My then boyfriend, now husband, Jon and I came to Wanaka for 18 months to ski, and we never left. We now have two girls, two businesses, a house and many friends. A story for many drawn to the inspirational landscape, and crisp Central Otago air.
What inspired you with your latest collection and the name?
'Our Song, Let’s Fly' is the name of my founding ready-to-wear Collection. The collection is my way of communicating my love of contrast -such as the deafening silence of falling snow or, as is the case with this new collection, the motionless flight of the hummingbird.
The pieces are playful yet bold. They delight through the iridescence of the jewels and the intricacy of design. They're graceful and sophisticated, yet fiercely beautiful. The name, a nod toward the design reference, yet it also celebrates my friends. Bold, elegant friends, fierce friends who asked to make sure I created pieces they could wear.
“Our Song” is about sharing this collection with those women and recognising their part in this collection being created. "Let's fly" invites them to be playful and bold, like the bird that inspired the design.
How long does it take to create a bespoke piece of jewellery?
It totally depends on the client and the piece. We work through 2D sketch together, into 3D modelling and then the final piece. It usually takes between three and five weeks for something like an engagement ring. A suite of jewels can take longer, as more design work, and crafting is involved.
What are the most exciting gems to work with right now?
Nice question. Diamonds are always fantastic icons to design around, but coloured gemstones are beautifully unique for their differing hues and characteristics. Personally, I love tanzanites for their blue, purple and green playfulness. And emeralds for their classic aesthetic and fresh, vibrant colour green.
Harmony sapphire and Tsavorite earrings, $7400. Duet Sapphire and Tsavorite Earrings $9,950.
Where do you find your inspiration as a designer?
Everywhere. Seriously, I sketch on the back of my New World receipts if out and about and away from my visual diary. When starting a new collection, I remove myself from the routine of everyday life and take myself to the coast, where I have a bach. It's there I immerse myself in designing, brainstorming and beach walks with my dog. It’s such a luxury, but a necessity with creativity and originality, both key to my business. My collections are usually inspired by an aspect of nature and my life at that time.
What’s on trend in the luxury market?
Chokers, bracelets, bangles and bold diamond and gemstone earrings. Herald will reveal some of the above early next year.
Who are your design heroes?
Chanel for their incredible, timeless style and form, both jewels and clothing. Stephen Webster for his love of gems. Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier for their opulence in design and heritage gems. And finally, Alexander McQueen - I loved the detail in his designs.
What is one of the most memorable pieces you have made?
My very first ring I made in Mexico. Formed out of silver and aquamarine. A statement piece that captured a wave in motion, in hindsight maybe a foray into the future?
How do you choose the perfect diamond for that forever ring?
I listen to my client and what this piece represents to them. We’re all different. It’s not just one singular message of 'love', each diamond is different. They each have their characteristics and not just the 4 C’s you often hear about.
If you were not a diamond fan, what would you recommend for a statement stone?
Personally, I would choose a Tanzanite Cabochon. They are rarer than diamonds and reflect stunning prisms of colour in greens, blues and purple.
How do you take care of luxury jewellery?
With great pride and TLC. Store pieces separately to each other in a cloth pouch and store them in a jewellery box or roll. You can give most pieces a clean with soft detergent and water using a lint free cloth. Pieces should be checked by a jeweller every year to ensure settings are secure. Also, they can help bring the sparkle back if it's lost.
How do you pack expensive jewellery when you travel?
I have a rather lovely suede and leather roll, and I sell these to my clients, as we all travel and the jewels come with us.
What is your best jewellery tip?
Jewellery is an extension of you and your life. I am a designer, mum, wife and I love sport. While life is hands-on, style and presentation are important to me. My earring repertoire reflects this; I have practical studs for when I am outdoors or playing sport, diamond hoops for meetings, colourful drops for the day and statement pieces for the evening. Every pair tells a story and is delightfully stylish at the same time. Each pair empowers me for that part of my day - you never know who you’re going to meet biking in the forest.