It was pure luck that I came across one of Rachel Grant’s articles. I was on an international flight from LAX and reading the Fashion section of the Financial Times; something I wouldn’t have done in my regular routine. I realized later that Rachel Grant was Rachel Garrahan who is a contributor for the Jewellery Editor, a great international blog that I follow on a regular basis. Rachel has a keen eye for beautiful things and is another one of us who fell in love with jewelry to the point that she became a goldsmith.
Josette: You describe yourself as a freelance writer, a jewelry designer and a goldsmith. Two very different fields with a creativity factor in common. Which do you like best being a wordsmith or a goldsmith?
Rachel: I know, they’re very different and I feel very lucky to be able to combine the two! I moved to LA 8 years ago from London 7 months pregnant with my first baby. I had been working in television and traveling a lot, and wanted to change things up so started writing and taking jewellery classes at UCLA with my wonderful instructor Ralph Goldstein. Making jewellery by hand is a very lengthy process- especially for a relative beginner like me – but it’s wonderful to wear something beautiful that you’ve made, or even better to give it to someone else. The writing satisfies another part of me: I love learning and getting out there and meeting talented people. I set up the blog as a home for my work – whatever it was – but I’ve actually been focused more on the writing in the past year. It’s been fascinating.
Josette: When did you first realize that you have a passion for jewelry?
Rachel: Dressing up was a passion of mine from an early age and I’ve always appreciated a bit (ok, a lot) of sparkle. At school I loved to design clothes and make beaded jewellery which I would sell to my parents’ friends and at the church fete. That got all put to one side when I went off to college (where I studied English and American literature) and it’s felt so good to come back to it!
Josette: As an editor, you have come across a lot of jewelry. How would you define today’s fine jewelry world and what is your opinion on artisan jewelry?
Rachel: It constantly amazes me how many original creations there are for such a relatively small accessory. It’s a joy to discover the way a designer – whether they be working for a major brand or making it themselves – has used new gem stones and materials, or reinterpreted an old style. As the consumer, you could go for a trend-based piece or something more classic, but either way you will hopefully fall in love with it and pass it down to the next generation.
As for the industry as a whole, I think there’s a place for everybody whether it be the dedicated team at Van Cleef & Arpels putting in hundreds of hours into creating one piece to the artisan jeweller doing everything themselves. I recently spent a morning with Arman Sarkisyan for The Jewellery Editor, and truly could have spent a whole week with him. To combine such imagination and technical expertise is awe-inspiring particularly for someone who struggles with soldering regularly!
Josette: How important is the celebrity factor in promoting your brand?
Rachel: I think in today’s short-attention-span, social media world, it is very important. On the one hand we all enjoy the fantasy of the red carpet and it’s is a wonderful opportunity for jewellery lovers to see extraordinary pieces that don’t have much place in our day to day lives. On the other hand we should be under no illusion that the red carpet is an industry these days with many brands paying the celebrity and their stylist to wear their gown, earrings or even their nail polish. This naturally makes it tough for the smaller designer who doesn’t have that kind of marketing budget to get the same exposure. That said, there will always be room for talented designers as there are many people out there who will appreciate your work whether it’s worn by a celebrity or not.
Josette: The Couture show is around the corner, what are you most looking forward to at the show?
Rachel: That’s a tough question with all that amazing jewellery under one roof. I look forward to seeing everyone and the new pieces they’ve been working on. It will also be great to discover some new designers and give them a chance to shine!
Thank you Rachel! I have enjoyed reading your writings, and I hope that you continue to sit at the bench and enjoy making beautiful things!