Posted 14th April 2017
Just how did this former subeditor of The Sunday Times become the ethical jewellery designer that she is today? We managed to drag Sally away from not only soldering in her North London garden studio but also from her 1 husband, 2 children, 2 cats and 1 puppy. How she found the time for the interview is anyone’s guess! Stepping inside Sally’s looking glass we gain a small insight into the inspiration behind her jewellery and how following the path of doing what she loves has led her to where the brand is today. Although it was always in her DNA, it only turns out that Sally’s discovered her distant relatives, in circa 1886, were silversmiths by trade. Now if that wasn’t the path she was meant to take then who knows what was?
1. Where did you grow up and do you feel this influence your design?
We moved from London to Norwich when I was little. I was lucky enough to have art lessons with with an amazing artist, Zheni Warner, a family friend whose vibrant and abstract paintings are so inspiring. I love the great expanse of Norfolk skies too and the beautiful coastline. The skies and feeling of freedom they evoke have played a big part in developing my collection.
2. In early stages of adulthood your career took various diversions, what eventually led you to the jewellery design path?
Yes, I had always been arty and did a lot of acting too but I took a “safer” option and did English at university then went into journalism. But I craved creativity and eventually did a postgraduate acting course. Not long after that I had my two children and acting wasn’t so compatible with early motherhood so I looked for other creative pursuits. I did a workshop using silver clay and that was it, I was hooked on the alchemy of jewellery-making. I went on to take a diploma in contemporary jewellery design.
3. What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far?
Any creative path has its therapeutic elements: there are times when certain projects are difficult and frustrating and you want to give up, but if you keep on working you feel such a sense of achievement when you overcome the difficulties. Several pieces I made during my diploma drove me to distraction but were so satisfying to finish. My happiest moment so far has been seeing some of my work on display in Milan during fashion week. And every time someone buys a piece of work it is a genuine thrill.
4. What does jewellery mean to you?
Jewellery is a form of expression of individuality and yet also connection to others. I love the fact that you can use very traditional methods and materials that link to our ancestors in the past and create something that can last and say something to people in years to come. I want to communicate a sense of wonder and joy, and if my work touches someone and transmits that emotion in some way, it is magical. It is also a way to wear a piece of art or a talisman, something that communicates who you are or how you want to be.
5. What three words would your friends use to describe you?
I did a small survey and kind, funny and creative were the three words that cropped up most, which was nice!
6. Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs?
I would love to see Florence Welch wearing my work, she has an ethereal magic and is an absolutely electrifying live performer. Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor and Cate Blanchett are also top of that list.
7. If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?
My favourite is “Turner’s Cloud” – I haven’t worn it because it is a one-off and it is waiting for its owner to discover it but it captures everything I was trying to express with the Radiance collection: it was a spontaneous shape formed by ice casting and citrine was set into it to represent the sublime beauty of sunshine breaking through clouds. I wear either my Cloud Burst or Cut through the Clouds stacking rings every day with rose gold Cloud Burst studs.
8. Which Alice in Wonderland character would suit your jewellery and why?
It would have to be Alice for her innocence and awe at the world she finds herself thrown into.
9. What drew you to showcase your gems on WNDRLND?
Jewellery can be very conventional. I love the fact that WNDRLND showcases unusual work but it feels like a coherent group – all the designs have a rawness, an edginess, about them.
10. What does the future hold for Sally Vanderpump Jewellery?
I’m at the beginning of this exciting journey, I have so much more to learn. I’m doing Made in Clerkenwell in May and am planning to work on my stone-setting skills this year. I’m starting to think about my next collection too. In the longer term I would love to set up a studio space and shop with some like-minded designers.
Thank you Sally for allowing WNDRLND to step inside your personal jewellery looking glass and sharing your story. Also feel Alice would be the perfect character to wear your jewellery, they seem a perfect match – imaginative, playful with a sense of curiosity. To discover the full collection click HERE