I have been creating jewellery for over twenty years from my studio in the Cockpit Studios in the centre of London. I have never been in favour of ‘bling’ as my works put elegance and wearability as the main criteria for my designs. Significantly, in my mind, whether you purchase a piece of jewellery from my collections or commission a bespoke piece of jewellery from me, my aim is to create a treasure for today, tomorrow and always.
My passion has always been diamonds; these precious objects from the depths of the earth send messages of energy and eternity. Diamonds, with their magical properties, have been used throughout my collections. In particular, I have been stimulated by the history, myths and legends surrounding diamonds and particularly the famous stones mined at Golconda in India, home to many of the most famous diamonds in the world. The magical qualities and the curvatures of the valleys and mountains where these stones are found, inspired me to create the Diamond Bud collection inspired by the early stages of Spring. The sea was also source of inspiration, with the waves creating the curves which inspired me for the white or yellow gold rings, pendants and earrings but always maintaining diamonds as the centrepiece. Depending on budget, the pendants or rings can hold one, two or even more diamonds, ensuring these stones are really the stars of the show.
With Spring in full bloom, the adored and endangered butterflies, of which there are 57 species in the UK, will hopefully return to our gardens and parks. My butterfly collection honours these wonderful, colourful insects and has inspired my range of affordable gold or silver necklaces and earrings, featuring the fabulous spread of a butterfly’s wings.
Over the coming months we have many plans for our newsletter, not just about my designs but also featuring the interesting and knowledgeable people who work in the world of jewellery. Starting with the inspirational Katherine Andrews, I do hope you enjoy these insights into the wonderful world of jewellery.
Interview by Tricia Topping
Katherine Andrews is a London based gemstone and jewellery consultant. Katherine holds a Gemmologist diploma from the Gemmological Institute of America unique. Katherine is acutely aware of the ethical implications of stones andthe importance of building sustainability into the buying of gemstones. Katherine’s lectures on the origins and purchase of gemstones gives a wealth of inside information on buying, using and selling stones. Check out Katherine’s website on www.katherineandrews.co. for more information.
1. How did your time at Sotheby’s inspire you to go down the route of a gemstone expert rather than a jewellery consultant?
I spent my university holidays assisting at the jewellery auctions in Geneva. I saw the majority of Sotheby’s jewellery experts had a gemmology qualification, so I knew that I would have to add to my business degree to get somewhere in the industry. As much as I love jewellery, gemstones somehow transcend design and beauty into something intangible, often linked to spirituality but also geology and chemistry.
2. You studied as a Gemmologist in Mumbai, a route not usually taken by gemmologists in the UK. Why did you choose this unusual route to study gemmology in India?
Approximately 80% of the world’s stones are cut in India. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to gain more hands-on experience, which I was fortunate enough to get as I went on to work in Jaipur.
3. What is impressive is your passion to travel to where the stones are mined. Not everyone has taken their chances and travelled to Kabul in Afghanistan. Explain why you did this?
I went to Kabul to work on a small project for the NGO Turquoise Mountain (a charity that helps preserve traditional arts and crafts in conflict zones). I gave gemmology training to artisans and also spent time in the market looking at their stones, grading quality and checking prices. As a foreigner in such a place, it’s very hard to get a proper grasp on provenance and pricing, however it was a wonderful experience and I feel grateful to work in an industry which gives me the opportunity not only to learn continually, but also to work with people from all over the world.
4 . The small mines in Thailand support farmers who are using mines to support their core livelihood. Please explain why you became involved in this sector.
I visited mines in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam with a field gemmologist, who was collecting samples for a testing laboratory. As someone who works with cut and polished stones, I think it’s important to know where your product comes from.
5. For a gemstone expert, the inclusions of tiny microscopic minerals can ascertain where a gem is mined and is the geographic passport to the provenance of a gemstone. Where do the best gemstones come from and which stones would you invest in?
The million-dollar question. With coloured gemstones, it can often come down to taste and prescribed ideals are changing. For example, Columbian emeralds are always thought of as being the best, however I have seen some exceptional colours come out of Zambia and Afghanistan. If you have a certificate for a stone from a reputable country with Country of Origin, the price may be high, but you can be sure the stone won’t lose value.
6. The jewellery market has grown over the last ten years and is now regarded as an important asset in class and outperforms the property market. Which stone would you buy to put into your pension fund?
A large pink diamond! Unheated rubies from Myanmar and sapphires from Kashmir. Colombian emeralds. I would buy from a reliable source and get them certified. I also love spinels and Padparadscha sapphire and opals, but these would all be emotional investments for me, as there is no short-term guarantee on your investment.