Q+a Tile

New Zealand's crown jewel - Jessica McCormack on designing jewellery for the stars

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

For New Zealand-born and London-based jewellery designer Jessica McCormack, jewellery design is in her blood. Known best for her bespoke and contemporary diamond jewellery, McCormack has gained a dedicated following and fan base and is exclusively stocked at Simon James Concept Store. Operating from a Townhouse in the Mayfair district of London, you will often see the brand’s designs worn by celebrities the world over. Zara Overton caught up with the trailblazer to find out more about her latest collection and the business of diamonds...

N. How did you get into jewellery design?

By accident. I thought I wanted to be an antiques auctioneer like my father, so interned at Sotheby’s jewellery department in London, and got hooked.

N. Story telling is an important part of your brand. Growing up in New Zealand, has this influenced or shaped your designs? If so, how?

For me, and I think for most New Zealanders, especially those of us living overseas, New Zealand is really strongly etched in my mind. The landscapes, my childhood, our culture, our weather, my family – it all plays a part in influencing my aesthetic.

N. What do you love most about diamonds?

How adaptable they are. Most people think of them as hard, cold, and sparkling, but they can be softened via the cut, the setting, the style of jewellery they’re in. Diamonds can be as dramatic or as low-key as you like.

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N. Can you tell us about your latest collection, Moonshine, and the inspiration behind it?

It’s an ode to the phases of the moon via a demi-lune cut. We’ve flipped it on its side, repeated it, reimagined the classic riviere necklace with it – there’s always something mystical about the moon and the half-moon shape conveys that beautifully.

N. Can you tell us a bit more about the process that goes into the sourcing and production of your jewellery?

All our diamonds are guaranteed to be conflict free. The company is vertically integrated and stones are sourced via our in-house diamantaire. All our pieces are hand crafted in-house in a dedicated atelier by a team of six, with master craftspeople committed to age-old techniques and passing their knowledge onto apprentices.

N. How has social media impacted the way you do business?

There’s no replacing the experience of coming into the house and seeing our world yourself, but selling via Instagram and WhatsApp is a huge part of what we do. We also find that social media is a great way of enticing people to come in and discover.

N. Not only have you amassed a huge social media following, but we also regularly see your pieces worn by celebrities such as of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Rihanna, Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Emma Watson. Has there been a favourite moment where you’ve heard/seen a celebrity wearing Jessica McCormack?

I loved it when Rosie Instagrammed herself wearing a pretty epic Ball n’ Chain necklace and pendant over a swimsuit on a yacht, because I’m always telling people to get their diamonds out and wear them every day – this seemed like a great example of that! More often than not, the celebrity is a client. It’s amazing to see the people who come through the door.

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N. The traditional idea of what an engagement ring should look like has changed over the past ten years, with brides and grooms choosing more bespoke and tailored pieces. What advice would you give someone looking for the perfect engagement ring?

Go with your gut! Look for something that speaks to you. Forget about carat weight or clarity or colour – think about the design, the overall look, how it makes you feel. And have a budget in mind!

N. Simon James is your only New Zealand stockist. Does your New Zealand clientele have a particular style of jewellery they lean towards?

People are amazed to learn that New Zealand is a big market for us! We do so well there. I think our New Zealand clients have a really cool, casual approach to wearing diamonds. Diamonds, denim shorts and jandals? Why not!

N. What jewellery trends can we expect to see coming into 2020?

I’d never tell, and also we are really not trend-driven. In fact, I tend to spot the trends then try and go the other way! But I am working on collections with a focus on certain cuts.

N. What are your favourite pieces that you are wearing right now?

I just Instagrammed myself wearing a really unusual kite-cut diamond on a superfine chain, suspended at either end on a slight angle. We’ve already had enquiries! But I always wear multiple Gypsets in both ears and play with different ring stacks. I wore the new Moonshine Riviere Necklace to my birthday party and sold it twice. We’re rushing another through the workshop now.

Jessica McCormack jewellery is available exclusively at Simon James Concept Store, 2 Kent Street.
simonjames.co.nz | @jessica_mccormack