The Sybarite spoke to Tessa Packard, London-based contemporary fine jeweller, about her inspiration and unique style, as well as her plans for the future.
One of Britain’s fastest rising fine jewellery designers, self-taught Tessa Packard has been nominated for a number of awards and named one of the Hot 30 Under 30 faces in the British jewellery industry.
Hailing from an artistic background, Tessa studied Fine Art and History of Art at school and university before transitioning into the renowned world of commercial art in London. It was after working an a gallery for four years that she decided to start making her own jewellery.
Her most recent collection that launched in April this year – ‘Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining’ – is a celebration of Britain’s obsession with our temperamental weather. Refreshingly playful yet elegant, pieces include a range of silver and gold meteorological symbols, such as thunderbolt and cloud earrings, charms, cuff links, rings and necklaces.
Speaking of what inspired her to move from working in an art gallery to making jewellery, Tessa said: “I have always had a love for design and drawing. No matter how much you admire, or are inspired by, the art on gallery walls, it can never replicate or satisfy the act of putting pen to paper – and physically working the canvas to create something unique. After four years in the commercial art world I simply came to a point where I realised that I wanted to be much more fully integrated in the art-making process and that it was therefore time to follow my dream and become a jewellery designer.”
“Of all the design disciplines, jewellery appealed to me the most because it’s by far the most intriguing medium to work with. It has the ability to be reinvented and reshaped; it has symbolic, talismanic and sentimental associations that no other accessory can boast; and it allows the designer an enormous scope for experimentation, in both materials and design.”
One of the many great things about Tessa is that she knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid to go and get it. She says that her vision for most things comes from a gut instinct: “I knew I wanted to create a jewellery label that was both modern and timeless in feel. I wanted to replicate the impeccable client service of an old-world, luxury, heritage brand – where each client had a direct relationship with the designer – as well as create eye-catching, innovative, contemporary design. For the most part, I spent a lot of time imagining from the client’s perspective what I would like the brand to be, what I would like it to offer and to look like – and both from the perspective of a long-standing jewellery buyer as well as a tentative first time buyer. I wanted to create a brand that looked both professional but not elitist, modern but heritage.”
Her style has been described by some of fashion’s elite as “irreverent” and “highly imaginative”, yet she describes it herself as “Robert Kime interiors meets Brazilian Concrete Art meets the Victorian Curiosity Cabinet. It’s all about juxtaposing the modern with the antiquated.”
When creating a collection, many jewellers will have a specific person in mind, be it a celebrity, friend or family member, yet Tessa credits her own jewellery box as the inspiration for new pieces, or rather, what she feels is missing from it. “That way there is less chance of being influenced by outside forces such as the work of other jewellery designers, current fashion or celebrity trends”, she says.
In terms of style icons, Tessa counts 94-year-old American businesswoman Iris Apfel, 20-year-old writer and actress Tavi Gevinson and the timeless classic Katharine Hepburn. “They are all very different style icons”, Packard tells us, “but each encapsulates a certain ‘look’ that is utterly unique to them. Whilst others may try to replicate these looks, it is never done successfully or with the same style integrity.”
With a number of enchanting pieces available from five individual collections, one is spoilt for choice when picking a favourite. However, Tessa says she has always been fond of the black sapphire Caracol Ring from her debut ‘Mexicana’ collection and it’s easy to see why. The gold base ring is simple yet eye-catching, with the black gems wrapped thrice around the ring’s exterior. “I love its clean lines, monochrome palette, its weight and substance and its enduring wearability. Whether paired with jeans and a white blouse, or a little cocktail dress, this ring always elevates the outfit.”
Having only launched a mere three years ago, Packard’s brand has got off to a roaring start, with features in countless high-profile publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Tatler and FT How to Spend It, among countless others. Despite this success, Tessa feels she still has a tendency to be “overly self-deprecating about [her] achievements in relation to [her] goals.” Although she feels humbled by where the brand has got to in such a short space of time, she says she feels “equally impatient about [the brand’s] future prospects and how far it could really grow in another ten. I want it all now!”
Born in Brazil and raised in Britain, it was Tessa’s strong belief in the British industry that ensures all of her jewellery is manufactured and hand-finished in the UK. As with many successful entrepreneur, Tessa has a philosophy that drives her ambition, believing that “you are only as successful as your least happy client”.
With stars in her eyes, the designer has got her sights set on a number of things in the coming months, including; “A new showroom, an ever expanding number of events, a new collection in September, and a Summer Competition launching next week.”
It’s hard not to catch Packard’s ambition – it’s contagious – but as a parting note, we ask her about her favourite travel destination. “The wilds of Mozambique are extraordinarily untouched and second-to-none for those looking to disconnect with the world. On the hit list – in equal measures – is a trip trekking the mountains of Bhutan and a week’s stay on a ranch in Wyoming playing cowboys and indians.”
By Aimee Phillips