Former hairstylist and part time model turned jewellery designer Caroline Ventura is somewhat of a Renaissance woman. Her beautiful line of handmade jewellery BRVTVS first caught my eye over at Joanna Godard's blog A Cup of Jo and ever since I've been lusting after the double chain link and cleopatra rings. I caught up with Caroline to discuss sawing, soldering and simple and chic jewellery.
Hi Caroline! What inspired you to start designing jewellery? Did you always want to get into jewellery design? It was never my intention to become a jewellery designer, but I have always been in the design field in one form or another. I started originally making pieces for myself because I couldn’t find jewellery that I actually wanted to wear. I guess I’m pretty picky when it comes to accessories so I figured that I may as well do it myself, so I get exactly what I want. I have a pretty bespoke approach to life.
How would you describe your aesthetic? I like things clean, simple, and timeless.
What influences your designs? I like to look toward architecture a lot in my pieces. Simple lines are really appealing to me so being in NYC is a huge influence in itself. I also get a lot of inspiration from craftsmen of centuries past. The line has a heavy Roman influence- I’ve always been fascinated with ancient Rome and have huge respect for the amount of work it took to create a piece of jewellery back then.
Did you look at anything specifically for this new collection? Since BRVTVS doesn’t have typical seasons that I design, it is important that each piece connects with the others around it in some sort of way…pieces that are brand new have to be cohesive with pieces that I designed a year ago. For some of the newest pieces, I really wanted to have things that were all about sharp angles and clean straight lines.
Are you working with any new materials this season? I’ve recently made the switch to 14k gold for certain components of my pieces. I love working in precious metal but it was important to me that the line remain in an affordable price point.
Can you describe the design making process? Most of my pieces start out as a sketch. Sometimes I find myself doing really normal things like watching a movie or sitting in a park and I will see an interesting shape and try to figure out how to translate that into a piece of jewelry. I also like designing for certain characters that I make up in my head and create pieces that I think those girls would want to wear every day
How did you learn your craft? Most of the skills I learned, I taught myself. I did take a few classes to learn the basics of jewelry design- sawing, soldering, polishing, etc. I’ve always been a do-it-yourself type of person, for me it’s fun experimenting with different techniques and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
How would you describe your personal style and how does that manifest itself in your designs? I love mixing extremes. Masculine and feminine. Hard and soft. I think my pieces have a good balance of femininity mixing in with more masculine themes like thick hammered bars or sharp points.
What outside of jewellery has inspired you recently? I’ve been really into cooking lately and I’m lucky enough to live down the street from an amazing farmer’s market here in NYC. My favorite thing to do in the summertime is to wake up early on Saturdays and head over there before it gets too hot. Most days when I’m in the studio, I’m daydreaming about what I want to eat for dinner.
What’s your favourite piece of jewellery? I have two. The first is a ring that I’ve worn on my right ring finger for over 10 years. It was my mother’s high school class ring that I “borrowed” from her…I don’t know that I’ll ever take it off. The second is really beautiful Miriam Haskell cuff that my husband bought me for our first anniversary. It’s totally different from the normal stuff I wear. It’s fine silver, with a few rows of vintage Swarovski. I had been watching it on eBay for a few weeks and got really sad when someone else bought it- only to find that someone bought it for me! I think he caught me lusting after it one day and took matters into his own hands.
Can you describe an average day in the studio? There’s no typical day- each day is different and I really love that. I get bored quite easily. Every day begins with coffee though. There are some really amazing coffee houses near my studio that have turned me into a bit of a coffee-snob. I usually work on about five or six pieces throughout the day, and try to always throw in some time to work on new designs.
Can you give us a hint as to what’s coming up next? What projects, both actual and aspirational, do you have lined up for the future? My husband and I are working on a project together that should see the light of day come the fall. We design furniture together so there’s always something interesting going on there. I’m expanding the studio into a bigger space soon, so I’ll be able to work on a few other things besides jewellery- painting, ceramics, etc. There’s also a few collaborations lined up with friends who are designers. I love working on projects with friends, it’s always super inspiring to me to see first hand what they’re working on and a huge honor to work beside them.
BRVTVS is available to purchase from brvtvs.com
(Images from the BRVTVS lookbook)