The life of a Boodles jewellery designer
- Credit: Archant
As a jewellery designer, Lorna Shaw from Nantwich handles some of the most precious stones in the world, writes Janet Reeder
Every day Lorna Shaw surrounds herself with glittering gold and diamonds as she creates some of the most precious jewellery in the world.
As a designer for the famous Boodles jewellers, Lorna, from Nantwich, has a dream job creating everything from pieces for existing collections to unique bespoke heirlooms.
This year is all about jewellery - we have a royal wedding to look forward to! - and that means one thing - the ring.
That circular symbol of devotion is the single purchase that drives people to the jewellery store, says Lorna, who is part of a four-strong team working in Liverpool (with one in London)
The 29-year-old admits that with Valentine’s Day looming, this is a popular month to propose and that means heading to Boodles for a ring.
‘Recently, the trend has been for a more classical look than something contemporary,’ she reveals.
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‘The simple classics like the three stone ring that is a real nod back to the past and which Prince Harry chose for his bride-to-be Meghan Markle is part of that trend. Clusters are also a new thing for us at the moment. We have been reworking those so they sit flush beneath the wedding ring.’
While Boodles doesn’t do anything as crass as design specifically for Valentine’s Day, they do have collections to suit those who want to invest in a token for their beloved.
‘We have pieces such as our cupid engagement ring which is an entry level piece and our Love Letters range which are gold letters with diamond details. Our Harmony engagement rings do really well as they have the kind of diamond details that really set us apart as a jewellers.’
Lorna, a former pupil at Brine Leas School in Nantwich, admits that she exhibited a creative streak from an early age.
‘I studied art and textiles at school and loved them,’ she says.
‘My teacher really pushed me and set me on the path to study art at South Cheshire College where I did fine art and mixed media, which included things like fashion and life drawing. It was a course that really opened you up to different industries too.
‘I come from a creative family which helps. My mother is very creative in terms of gardening and landscaping. She was very forward thinking so that when I said I wanted to be an air steward she said that I should actually think about doing something I was really passionate about.
‘I am definitely a bit of a magpie - anything sparkling catches my eye.’
Lorna went on to study for a degree in jewellery and silversmithing in Buckinghamshire and a mere six months out of college at the age of 21 applied for a job with Boodles on a site called Benchpeg.
The company had decided to put the post on hold but she persuaded them to give her a brief and she worked on designs for a ring and a pendant that clinched her a six month contract.
‘I am so lucky that I got straight in,’ she admits.
‘Everything I have learned I have learned from them and that has made me very much part of the brand - the Boodles family.’
Lorna explains that it is the timeless elegance and organic nature of Boodles design that really sets it apart and ensures that devotees keep coming back for more beautifully worked treasures.
‘People come into the shops and it’s all about those relationships, we really want them to be part of the family too.
‘We have all different price points, from everyday entry level pieces to extravagant higher end pieces.’
Buyers are tempted by the beautiful collections which Boodles brings out around every two years, such as the Pas de Deux collection inspired by the movement and elegance of the Royal Ballet and their recent Poetry of the Landscape range, which uses Ashoka diamonds to express the beauty of ancient topography.
Lorna also creates one-off pieces inspired by the stones which are discovered by Boodles’ directors on their travels.
‘It can be the colour or the shape that inspires the design. For example, I recently had an imperial topaz. It’s a rich yellow colour and came out of quite a classical pendant. I put it in a wheatsheaf ring, inspired by golden fields. It was an immediate reaction to the stone,’ she explains.
‘Sometimes I am working on a stone that is worth £70,000. I tend to try not to think about the value and just concentrate on making it look beautiful.
‘The best thing is when you create something a client can love. It is when they pick it up and put it on, that’s when is becomes a piece of jewellery for me. That’s when it becomes really special.
Lorna gets her ideas from a variety of sources, from immersing herself in contemporary fashion images, to trips to Tatton Park in Knutsford but it is nature that is her biggest inspiration.
‘I’m very outdoorsy and when I’m out walking, the way a leaf has fallen or the way in which a flower is blooming can trigger a design,’ she says.
‘My new Orchard collection features a golden pear inspired by the history of this orchard fruit and its very Britishness.’
Boodles, which has jewellery stores in Liverpool, Manchester and London’s Bond Street as well as Chester, has a high profile clientele that they won’t reveal details of. But Harry Potter writer JK Rowling has been known to wear Boodles as have the professional footballers and their partners in Cheshire.
‘Our biggest clients are in Cheshire,’ reveals Lorna. ‘We have some who live in the Chester area who spend between £1m-£7m a year - probably our most important clients are based here.’