Jessica McCormack is the New Zealand-born, Christchurch raised and now London-based jewellery designer. A disrupter of the diamond world, Jessica is known for her wearable heirloom-inspired pieces. Her creations combine Georgian and Victorian techniques and hand-craftsmanship with contemporary designs packed full of personality and symbolism. McCormack hand sketches all her jewellery designs, her signature delivers a cut-down setting and blackened gold, which adds a subtle rebellious edge to her feminine pieces. Having your first commercial piece on the ears of Rihanna - her famous Wings of Desire earrings – put her on the map and it was only up from there.
Rewind a few years, pre-Mayfair townhouse, and Jessica’s introduction to the finer things in life came after a year of pestering letters to the head of jewellery at Sotheby’s auction house. That resulted, age 25, in a London internship which ignited her appreciation and understanding of precious jewellery design. At Sotheby’s she also met Michael Rosenfeld, a third generation diamantaire who later become her business partner. In 2008, with Rosenfeld’s backing, she opened her appointment-only workshop in Clerkenwell.
Constantly inspired by an abundance of influences, whether it be the Bauhaus movement, mid-Century American architecture or contemporary art, these are overlaid on Jessica’s earliest childhood influences. The daughter of an auctioneer, her home was filled with weird and wonderful objets d’art and it was the antiques world that led her to jewellery. At auction she would buy up huge boxes full of. costume jewels and remake them into new pieces.
McCormack has now migrated from the Clerkenwell studio to the current Mayfair townhouse-come-atelier-come-art gallery abode. It’s a grand 19th Century showroom designed entirely by Jessica and is renowned for its acclaimed interiors reflecting her impeccable taste. A rolling curation of Michael Rosenfeld’s collection of art, antiques and books adorn the boutique, demonstrating her unique knack for effortlessly fusing antique and contemporary aesthetics. No stone is left unturned and a walk into the secret garden enables guests to see diamonds by daylight, while an on-site workshop executes each piece maintaining high levels of craftsmanship. Her self-run Instagram account combines an element of aspiration with relatable and real-life styling. If you follow her you will be accustomed to her finger stacks of diamonds and bamboo gold paired with jeans, white T-shirts and oversized shirts; “People can relate to it because it’s real life, not red carpet.”
McCormack has redefined how women wear fine jewellery by creating pieces that fit a modern woman’s wardrobe and lifestyle.
I scribble all my thoughts on any bit of paper I can find. This is usually the back of an envelope or print outs. I don’t write the typical physical list. It’s more about getting my thoughts and ideas down when I have them and then my team know how to make sense of them laying them out on my desk. It’s less of a list and more scattered thoughts.
Other than my trail of notes, I sketch everywhere, whether it’s designs for new collections, commissions for bespoke pieces or one offs I would love to make. Ideas for new jewels are always percolating in my mind and my main concern is just getting them out. If I’m honest, I truly hate a to-do list. I just don’t work like that and I think that is fine. You have to work your own way. Though there’s definitely something initially cathartic about writing down everything you need to do in the first place, after that to me to-do lists are just mocking; they are a permanent record of things that slip through the net. When you have a busy life, this is bound to happen and then I end up feeling beat up.
I would say I am in no way traditionally organised. My husband is baffled how I muddle through without so much as a smattering of organisation. Though I firmly believe there is order in the chaos. For a ‘disorganised’ person I seem to accomplish a fair amount! I think it’s all about managing your time and understanding when you need to allocate time to certain projects. You need to actively live and learn. For me designing a new piece or entering a new partnership is a leap of faith. Sometimes you just have to take that leap or you will never get to know your boundaries or exploit where opportunity can lead you.
When you are working full time if feels like there is never any time. The reality is you just have to sneak moments wherever you can to do the things that bring you joy and you believe in. I’m wildly lucky that I am able to do a job I love, that is essentially my passion project. It makes it easier to motivate myself, although I’ve honestly never thought about what keeps me motivated, I guess it’s just part of who I am.
My style of working is always evolving, and I think that is the cornerstone to any creative practice. Our team has grown rapidly - though we’re still pretty small – and it’s really exciting. Having new ideas and new minds in the business prompts all of us, including me, to work differently and perhaps land somewhere we wouldn’t have otherwise.
One thing I know for sure is that I could not live without coffee, lots of it, and as a daily ritual I try to wake up early for a few moments of peace before my three children are up.