Harnessing the power of light: JHW metamorphic fine jewellery comes to life

Posted by Jo Beckett on

I was recently interviewed by Studio Luxmore to talk about my aesthetic, process and inspirations, plus my brand new capsule collection; Glint studs.

Here's the full interview:

Jo Hayes Ward is a fine jeweller who lives and works in South East London whose work is celebrated across the world. Jo describes her unique aesthetic as metamorphic, calling to our minds both the geological term and the 18th century technical furniture. Jo is a master at capturing the light and creating versatile, transformative and unique jewellery, with her jewellery possessing an architectural and organic feel with the many elements coming together to form a whole composition.

How did you come to be a jeweller?
It all started with a fascination with sculpture while I was at Camberwell Art college. I’m dyslexic and, frustratingly for me, not great at drawing, but it turns out that my brain works brilliantly in three dimensions. So naturally I was drawn to experimenting with shapes, structures and 3D patterns. It was the intricate 3D shapes I was particularly drawn to, I had this moment when I realised - making jewellery really was an amazing fit for me. After this  I went on to study a BA and MA, learning metalwork skills and gained a tacit knowledge of materials and developing my signature metamorphic aesthetic. It hasn't faltered since.

Your jewellery is so unique. Can you tell us about your aesthetic?
I describe my designs as metamorphic: the aesthetic hints at geological form, with multiple delicate elements and textures combining to create each composition. This lends my work an architectural, but also organic, feel.You can see that my designs are made from many delicate, building blocks that come together to form each composition. I angle every golden block and facet very precisely so that when the piece is worn, light bounces off all those facets and blocks, creating a shimmering effect. It comes alive when worn, that, I hope, is the magic.

Who do you design for?
I make jewellery to make you feel good! I want my jewellery to work hard for you. I believe jewellery should be endlessly versatile. Metamorphic also means my jewellery can be worn in multiple ways, worn and adored both night and day. Designs are transformative. Rings can be stacked for impact, necklaces delicately layered, and earrings worn in multiple ways. While some of my work feels feminine, other pieces reflect a more gender neutral aesthetic.

Tell us a little about the materials you use
All my jewellery is made using 18 ct yellow, warm white or high palladium recycled or fairtrade gold.  Sustainability is hugely important to me: I need to know that everything is produced in a socially responsible, environmentally sound manner. All gems are sourced from non conflict areas and, as much as possible, fully traced to source and mined and processed under fair trade principles. I’ll always keep scrutinising my supply chain and working practices to make sure I’m doing everything I can to be sustainable.

Who or what inspires you?
Nature never fails to inspire. I love patterns and texture found in nature, and in geological formations, they don’t look real do they? Then of course there's architecture... and the work of many artists and sculptors that has and continues to blow my mind along the way!

What do you find is the most effective way of communicating your brand and USP?
I've realised that using moving image is a really powerful tool for my work in particular as it shows off the way each piece catches the light when it's worn. Much more straightforward than explaining in words! It's also very important for my work to be photographed being worn, as it demonstrates how delicate the pieces are, it can look much larger and more 'clunky' in close up images.

What aspect of being a jeweller do you most enjoy?
I feel very lucky to be stocked in boutiques around the world but I do love working directly with customers. I often get asked to create bespoke pieces - I design wedding and engagement rings - how special is that? And I can also create new pieces from heirloom gems and gold, it’s amazing to breathe new life into people’s treasures. I absolutely love meeting my customers, designing pieces with a particular person in mind is so much fun. Being a jeweller is very special because you’re part of someone’s story, it’s a huge privilege and responsibility.

You created a piece of public art recently. Can you tell us about the process and the work?
I adored designing a magnificent piece of public art for the facade of Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, it was a huge honour and such fun to see my work at such an enormous scale for a change! I designed it in collaboration with my husband - furniture designer Laszlo Beckett.  It’s created in my signature aesthetic; light is reflected off the cube, facets and elements, forming dramatic shadows within the sculpture throughout the day as the sun moves or the viewer moves around it. We loved the process and hope to take on more public art in future. Read more about this project here.

How have you coped with the ever changing landscape of 2020? 
It's been a really tricky year hasn't it. Having three young kids and a business to run was certainly challenging during the first lockdown when schools were shut! I'm grateful that my husband and I share childcare so I could carry on working albeit at a much slower pace. I decided to use the time to build a new website, something I'd been planning but hadn't got around to doing. I'm holding my breath now that schools remain open so I can carry on working.

What's next for you?
I've just launched a brand new capsule range of little stud earrings - Glint. They're a celebration of shape in its purest form. Each of the eight designs is a different shape and boasts a gorgeous textured finish, I've created them in relief to give them a 3D sculptural feel. They're created in solid 18ct yellow gold and available as singles, they're pared down and super easy to wear, and perfect for mixing, matching, and collecting!

Browse my Glint studs here, and read about Studio Luxmore here.

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