Colour conversation with Charlotte Rose, Jewellery Designer and Graduate in Diamonds
For our latest Colour Conversation, we talk to Melissa’s sister, Charlotte Rose, who has designed four precious gemstone and tassel earrings for Kettlewell, each in a seasonal palette.
How did you first get interested in jewellery design?
I have wonderful childhood memories of large family gatherings at our grandparents’ house in North Yorkshire. It was all very grand with a lot of dressing up involved. I was mesmerised by my glitzy aunties and our very glamorous grandmother, Ganzi, and her stunning antique collection and colourful clothes; mesmerised by each little detail of her jewellery – every loop, link, ball and disc that caught the light.
Since a young age I have always loved colour, especially light that shines through coloured glass or gemstones and radiates its hue. One memory in particular is of my Aunt Jane, who loaned me a long beaded necklace to wear for our annual family photograph, I remember feeling very special, as if these beads were very precious. It was then that I had the first feeling that I wanted to design beautiful things.
As well as being a huge influence to Charlotte in her jewellery design, Ganzi (Melissa and Charlotte's grandmother) was also the inspiration for one of our best-selling colours, Ganzi Purple!
You can shop our range of styles in this colour here
What inspires your jewellery?
Nature, colour and light. Nature always inspires me, especially after it’s just rained. With the light, it’s the colours, the rain drops that hang on to the most intricate details of Mother Nature’s perfect masterpieces. The colour of each gemstone is unique and possesses endless combinations, each with a different story. My job is to bring harmony and excitement to the piece of jewellery that complements the gem.
You have travelled extensively in India and Bali and now live in Rio. Tell us a little about what makes these countries so special to you.
I love India. I feel like I’ve arrived home every time I return. It’s the motherland for me, so alive and bursting with colour. I love yoga and Jaipur the Pink City, for all its dazzling gems and colour. I love the displays of beautiful colours, temples and palaces, flower garlands, piles of spices, starched cottons and silks; the sounds of nature, chanting mantras, music, horns; the tastes and smells of coconut curries, samosas, chutneys. The flavours of India are endless and truly tantalising to the senses.
Colourful flower mandala
Flower garlands on Indian shrine
Colourful spices on Indian street
Charlotte at the Lake Palace, Udaipur
I fell in love with Bali the very first day I stepped off the aeroplane in 1990, and I hadn’t even left the airport! It was the attention to detail, the way that even the simplest everyday objects are made into a works of art. Everywhere you look there is beauty and inspiration. The Balinese have the most delicate hands and are able to produce very fine work. They are naturally creative people and pass their workmanship down from grandfather to grandson.
It rains a lot in Bali, mostly just short bursts, the puffy clouds move fast and change the light several times a day, which is one of the reasons so many artists are attracted to it. I love Bali for the constant inspiration of nature, the talented workmanship of the people and the delicious fresh Indonesian food.
The villa Charlotte designed and built in Bali
I came to live in Rio because my husband is Brazilian, and although it has been hard, I have grown to love it here. It feels to me a stronger energy, a faster pace, a wilder nature. You need to be on your toes, not just to dance the samba, but for life! Brazilian people are passionate and musical, they can whip up a party out of nothing and make it fun.
The state of Minas Gerais in particular has an abundance of colourful gemstones. This has led me on to my newest quest, to know more about these colourful treasures, and thus started my journey to become a gemologist and study with the wonderful Gemological Institute of America.
Charlotte and her current home, Rio de Janeiro
Sunset in Rio
Can you talk us through the process of design and making?
When a client comes to me for a bespoke piece of jewellery, I start with a set of questions to be able to personalise it for them – style, shape, size, budget that sort of thing. I like to already know their birth date before they arrive so I can prepare some gemstones to show them. In India, the Hindu astrological birth charts are called Kundali and are based on the movement of the stars and the moon, not just the sun. This gives me a wider range of influential gemstones to work with and start to visualise some ideas and designs. If I’ve already met the client, or at least seen a photograph of them, I will have a feeling of their style and their colours. As each gem colour or hue vibrates at a certain frequency, I want the client to be in perfect harmony, looking absolutely stunning and for the gems to empower them. Mostly people will zoom in to one or a few different gemstones immediately and I start the design from there. After I have come up with a rough sketch, I will paint the design in life-size from a few angles to be able to give an estimate.
Much depends on where I have sourced the gemstone – fairtrade and ethical gemstones, for example, come at a higher price – and whether I have to cut or drill, how many gems will be set in gold or other metals, and how many hours of workmanship will be involved. When I make a necklace, for example, I like to work with a very strong special thread from Thailand. Most gemstone beads come with very small holes, too small for a strong thread, so I drill each bead. It involves stone sorting, matching of colours and shapes, checking under the loop for cracks or defaults, setting them in a special putty to hold the beads secure and ensure a straight hole. This can take a few days depending on the hardness of the gem. Once all the components are ready, I will begin to thread it all together, carefully making tight knots in between each bead to protect the beads and gives the necklace a firm, snake-like flexibility and flowing movement.
How and where do you source your gems and metals?
A lot of gemstones can now be bought online from good ethical sources, but I like to go to the source, to feel them and sense the life and light in them.
Charlotte's design using Amethyst crystalline quartz stone sourced in Brazil
"A stone traditionally worn to instil a sober and serious mind! Amethyst enhances intuition, creativity, memory, motivation, right brain activity, function of pineal and pituitary glands, courage, excellent for meditation, soothes mind and focuses attention, and serenity."
Charlotte's design using Lapis Lazuli stone sourced in Afghanistan
"Lapis Lazuli is a natural blue rock made of several different minerals, including lazurite, sodalite and hauyne. Lapis Lazuli has been worn in the belief that it will protect the wearer from evil! Lapis Lazuli enhances creative expression, thought amplification, psychic awareness, courage, intellect, enlightenment and balance on all levels."
Charlotte's design using Carnelian stone sourced in India.
"Carnelian was once thought to still the blood and calm the temper! Carnelian enhances motivation, clarity of mind, meditation, concentration, memory, self confidence, vocal expression, peace, harmony and courage."
Charlotte's design using Peridot stone sourced from Arizona.
"Peridot enhances patience, mental and emotional clarity, happiness, sleep, confidence and balances emotions."
Do you have a favourite gemstone?
I have so many – blue sapphires, parriba tourmaline, rubilites, opals, aqua marines – but for me the gemstone with faraway the most durability would be a flawless, colourless diamond in a standard round brilliant cut, for its brightness, fire and a scintillation that bedazzles me with the whole spectrum of the rainbow.
What is the most precious piece of jewellery you own?
A ring that belonged to my mother, because it carries her energy inside it and it humbles me.
There is a spiritual side to your jewellery. Can you tell us about it?
I feel the stones, often they carry the energy of the different people who have handled them. So as soon as I receive them I like to cleanse them in salt water and recharge them. I also like to clear my own energy before I start to work. Then I use essential oils in a diffuser to create a clear ambiance in my work space (we use cold water to remove energy build up and the essential oils create the focus and clarity for creation).
I love to make Japa Malas, necklaces with the sacred number 108, plus one Guru bead. Generally used to keep count when you’re chanting mantras 108 times. In India the ancients proclaimed that the Universe was stitched together by those who constantly chanted mantras. I like to think I am stitching together light, happiness and love into my jewellery often using sacred numbers and patterns.
Charlotte doing an early morning ceremony in Bali
Yoga and cooking are two of your big passions. Tell us more!
I love to practise yoga as an early morning ritual at first light, to cleanse my body with cold water, to light a candle and burn an incense to honour my Guru and the teachers who came before. I love to cook for my friends and family, bringing them the tastes of the world to the table.
Have you had your colours done, and if so what season are you? How much do you incorporate your colours into your wardrobe?
Yes, Melissa kindly gave me a colour and style analysis as a present. I am a Classic Dramatic Winter, ironically a Jewel Winter! Once I knew my star-rated colours at 100% I definitely started to incorporate them into my life, not just my wardrobe but accessories, interiors and fresh flowers!
Last great colourful buy?
A bright pink cashmere jumper.
Charlotte in her studio