A Conversation with the Gentleman’s Journal
Tessa was asked to chat jewellery by leading men’s magazine The Gentleman’s Journal…
Tell us about the inspiration behind setting up Tessa Packard.
Tessa Packard London was born out of a desire to build a fine jewellery house that embraced storytelling and celebrated individuality. I wanted to create a label that prioritized narrative integrity and good design above the superfluous use of diamonds. Each bi-annual collection is very much curated with every piece aiming to stand out from the next, but equally understood as part of a narrative whole. It is aimed at the sartorially chic who appreciate the value of British-made, statement, timeless jewellery.
What is your background and why did you decide to set Tessa Packard London up?
As a teenager I had a pipedream to be an accessories designer. My passion for art initially led me down a different route – a History of Art degree at university followed by a career in the commercial art world at one of London’s most respected Mayfair art dealers, Dickinson. After four years working alongside masterpieces I realized that what I really missed doing was designing my own masterpieces. I reached a point one Christmas where I realized personal regret would far outweigh entrepreneurial risk, and the rest, as they say, is history….!
Why is it important for your creations to be British made?
There are many reasons why I feel it is important for our jewellery to be made in the UK. First and foremost, I am a London-based designer and Tessa Packard London is a luxury British label – manufacturing outside the UK would be completely incongruous with our ethos and branding. Secondly, I am a strong believer in supporting British industry and artisanal manufacturing. I want to insure that these unique skills continue to exist and be passed down for many more generations. Thirdly and finally, I like having a direct and personal relationship with my goldsmiths and workshops. I find this essential and integral for both quality control and innovation.
What is a constant source of inspiration for you?
Art, popular culture, exotic countries and the natural world tend to be my main sources of inspiration. Having said that, I am also deeply influenced by romanticized tales and historical legends. My collections to date have explored Mexican Architecture, Chinese opium dens, conceptual art and English penny sweets as well as the tropical paradise of Papua New Guinea.
What is your personal favourite piece that you’ve designed?
That is a very hard question to answer! For sculptural quality, I love the hand-carved amber and amethyst Fire Wasp Earrings; in an everyday luxe capacity, I love the various sweet-inspired necklaces and bracelets, all layered together; and when the occasion calls for elegant, statement jewellery, I find myself gravitating towards the Pear Drop Earrings every time.
Define what luxury means to you.
Instantly noticeable, easily wearable and ultimately timeless.
Why should jewellery be an instrumental part in any woman’s wardrobe?
Jewellery is a very clever medium. Chameleon-like, it can play both the centre stage role and that of the supporting cast, often simultaneously. With jewellery, the styling possibilities are endless. I believe that a jewellery box should be considered in much the same way as one’s wardrobe, containing the equivalent of a crisp white shirt, and black pair of court stilettos, the perfectly fitting, everyday jeans and the showstopping cocktail dress.
What is most important: classic subtle pieces or statement pieces?
For the reasons stated above, a mix of both! I think every woman needs a great cocktail ring, a simple but statement stud earring (please not a solitaire diamond!), a standout, opera length necklace that can be worn with a crisp, open-neck shirt or used to accessorize a little shift dress – and finally – a knockout pair of earrings that turn heads.
What makes working in jewellery so exciting?
I’m very lucky that I love designing as much as the business aspect of creative entrepreneurship. Working as a jewellery designer is, for me, the pefect fit. The excitement of my job also comes in from its challenges: the challenge to be the most innovative, to be internationally recognized, to be respected in your industry and to be remembered as a great jeweler. Jewellery is also a world that is constantly changing and innovating in terms of manufacturing techniques and trends. I find that aspect of ‘creative possibility’ incredibly intoxicating.
What is your favourite material to work with?
Yellow gold. Colour-wise, I think it is by far the most versatile and visually complementary of all the precious metals. It suits all skin tones and hair colours and brings a touch of old-world luxe to any ensemble.
What tips would you give a gentleman in the market for his partner?
Diamonds are not essential. Rings can be tricky unless you know their size. Gift certificates as presents are only acceptable if they come with a one-to-one, personal shopping appointment with the designer. Initial or letter charms are passé. Personalized engraving goes a long way.
For a black tie event: how important is it for a man to match his accessories with his partners jewellery?
Not at all! In fact, I would positively discourage any form of accessory co-ordination unless you are Posh and Becks.
What would you recommend a gentleman goes for: a high fashion piece or an everyday one?
A jewellery purchase should always take into consideration budget and circumstance. If a gentlemen is looking to buy his partner a ring that he envisages her wearing on a daily basis, than a balance needs to be met between statement design and practicality, much like when buying or designing an engagement ring. If, however, he is looking to purchase his partner a statement ring that would be hard to ignore on the hand, but worn only on occasion, then his choice of piece should be very different.
Why is jewellery such an important investment for a gentleman to make for his partner?
Fine jewellery has always historically been considered a timeless heirloom – both for sentimental and monetary reasons. If well made, the piece has the potential to be incredibly long lasting, making it worth the investment. Like fine art, it also more often than not holds or appreciates in value. From a sentimental point of view, jewellery’s emotional value lies both in its durability (an heirloom to pass down from generation to generation) and its ability to be customized, engraved or designed from scratch as a bespoke commission, perfectly tailor-made for the recipient in question.
What is the number one failsafe option a gentleman can always go for when it comes to buying jewellery?
A personal consultation with Tessa Packard London.