The cocktail rings of London jeweler Fiona Knapp are dazzling, dramatic and always reverential to the gemstone.
Fiona Knapp is renowned for her extraordinary statement rings. Statement perhaps being an understatement. For these rings are gobstopper-sized showstoppers that come in a kaleidoscope of bright colors. With names like the beehive, Manhattan skyline, and medallion, they are less cocktail ring and more elegant knuckleduster.
From her decadent jewel-box of a store, prominently positioned in the heart of London's Notting Hill, Knapp has garnered something of a cult following amongst in-the-know celebrities and fashion editors, who come not just for the dazzling rings, but also for the more delicate earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
Having studied gemology at Hatton Garden, the centre of London's diamond trade, New Zealand-born Knapp began designing for private clients before launching her eponymous brand of jewelry in November 2003.
Here, she shares with LuxuryCulture her thoughts on jewelry design, gemstones and the inspiration of London.
Fiona Knapp's definition of luxury?
Peace and a huge ruby.
If luxury were...
Then the object should be something completely impractical and superfluous to any requirements: adornment for it's own sake.
A point in time devoted to being creative.
Someone who makes you laugh like crazy.
A desert island minus the airports and the packing.
Where does your interest in jewelry stem from and when did you decide to become a designer?
Since I was a girl growing up near the beach in New Zealand I have made jeweler with found objects: after years of toiling in non-creative work I was almost ready to scream. I hit that point almost 8 years ago.
How would you describe your creative style?
Be bold: it takes conviction to pull anything of in this life.
Your boutique occupies a prime spot in London's Notting Hill neighborhood. How much does London's style and atmosphere influence your work?
It is inherent in all things we do, London culture affects us and our clients and enables the environment in which we can all be inspired.
You studied gemology and worked as a dealer in gems at Hatton Garden. How does your intimate knowledge of gems and stones affect your work?
We are defined by colored gemstones, in all my work I look to create a design that is reverential to the gemstone.
Large and dramatic rings are your signature pieces. Are rings a particular fascination of yours?
Yes rings are a particular love of mine. Most women enjoy rings as they can be seen readily by the wearer.
There have always been pieces for men in your collections. How do you think men should incorporate jewelry into their style?
It depends on the man. Mostly we make pieces for well dressed men that like tailoring. Our London outlet, Spencer Hart in Savile Row, specialize in a distinct English look, we use a lot of sapphire for men. In small quantities gems can be incredibly sexy and confident on a man
What inspires your work?
Most recently I fell in love with some incredible Opal from Australia. When you see the surface of the stone it is like looking at a satellite photograph of the earth. With the Opal I have made a collection which has a 70's feel to it
Who is the typical Knapp customer and why do they come to you?
This seems to be changing all the time. Initially we had a small clientele of very astute jewelry buyers. What I notice most is that this audience is growing and more people are having the confidence to order a bespoke piece.
What is the most luxurious piece you have created? Is the bespoke market important to you?
Yes, the clients who order bespoke can be more challenging. Sometimes a client has to be encouraged to have a piece made that is very anti-tradition. The most luxurious item would have to be a pendant with a hidden gemstone and message - this piece was entirely for the wearer.
What jewelry do you wear on a daily basis?
I am naughty as I change my jewelry every other day. Today I am wearing a clover style ring with Tsavorite garnets in unbrushed 18ct Yellow gold.
Which is your favorite piece of jewelry that you have created?
Recently I made a piece that was with a very rare tourmaline called "Paraiba", This ring has 8 carats of rose cut diamonds. It's a spectacular piece, the color of neon green, like the ocean in the Caribbean.
Which other designers do you admire?
I was upset to hear that Andrew Grima passed away recently. He was one of England's most important jewelry designers. I admire his work with unknown gemstones from the 70's.
How would you like your brand to develop in the future?
We want to continue improving and perfecting what we do. Too many mistakes are made by rushing in...