Lily Gabriella Fine Jewellery: Honouring a Gemstone
believe one of the biggest challenges we face as creatives in the jewellery industry is how to best honour the medium we are working in. From the blank gouache board, to loose gemstones, and un-cast metals we are kept awake at night with endless questions about how a jewel should take form and how to maximize its beauty - all the while remaining true to ourselves and personal design beliefs.
In my experience, success is often related to having the discipline to set aside external factors like value and what is seen as the common route, and to focus on what you are looking to communicate through your creation – reflecting on your design principals and values, being open minded to new concepts or techniques, and crafting with passion from your heart.
These skills and thought processes take time to master and are never gained without challenging yourself or your workshop, however to see these ideals take form in a jeweller who is only a few years into the business is incredibly exciting to see.
Enter Lily, of Lily Gabriella Fine Jewellery. Gifted vision from her childhood, gemological education from the GIA (Gemological Institute of America,) and work experience at Christie’s Geneva, I see a rising star of the jewellery industry who is quickly building her notoriety and becoming a leading force.
Lily creates contemporary designs which come across as both strikingly forward thinking and unconventional, but also warmly familiar and reminiscent of a past era. Her gemstone’s are masterfully set in creations which honour their medium and push the jewellery industry forward.
Read below my complete interview with Lily on how her childhood shaped her dreams, where she goes to feel inspired and so much more.
How did your family's celebration of excellent design inspire you to work in jewelry?
I am beyond grateful for having grown up in a home that celebrates design in all its forms. As a child, I was never told that I wasn’t allowed near a rare object, painting or jewel and I certainly didn’t know their value back then.I also had no idea who surrounded me. My brothers and I would often be greeting guests not knowing how important they could have been – other than just “adults”– which allowed for very candid conversations! Looking back, I feel very fortunate that we were never cast aside for simply being children – these interactions have impacted us and guided us tremendously.
Furthermore, I’ve always been encouraged by my mother and grandmother, both avid jewellery collectors, to rummage through their jewels as they would dress for events. The sparkle and colours of gemstones would fascinate me, like they would any young girl, but little did I know I was being exposed to beautiful jewels spanning centuries of design, each with fantastic provenance and perfectly characteristic of the period they represent – my mother and grandmother were born with a keen eye for quality – It’s in their DNA.
Lily, of Lily Gabriella Fine Jewellery
Do you remember your first interaction working with jewelry? What did you learn from it?
After receiving my Graduate Gemologist degree from the GIA in New York, I briefly worked at Christie’s jewellery department in Geneva. I was extremely lucky to have had the most incredible mentor / boss. One could tell she lived and breathed jewels and gemstones. Her vast knowledge, be it of their history or properties, is fascinating. Her name is Helen Molesworth – the very same lady who delights us with her posts on social media. She may not know this but she truly made an impact on me and I have learned so much from her, whether when appraising pieces for clients or learning the story behind a particular gem.
Whilst studying at the GIA, we were not privy to exceptional gemstones because the idea was to learn of their characteristics, which served its purpose. However, when I got to Christie’s, Helen truly took it one step further for me. Not only was it a privilege to be surrounded by many historical gems, but I also couldn’t have asked for a better guide!
When you are looking at gemstones to create into jewels, what characteristics do you look for?
Unless a client requests a gem with a specific cut, clarity, colour or carat, I don’t discriminate! I tend to think of chromatic combinations and shapes first – colour is at the forefront of my designs, I then like to play with volume and light to emphasize the beauty of the stone.
Lily Gabriella Gouache Designs
Can you describe a challenge you faced when creating your first collection and how you overcame it?
Creating my first high jewellery collection for Sotheby’s Diamonds in 2019 was particularly daunting. It was a collaboration of dreams not only because I was essentially given carte blanche to design whatever I wanted but mostly because I was entrusted with a collection of wonderful fancy coloured diamonds – an opportunity rare to young designers but made possible by Patti Wong, visionary chairwoman of Sotheby’s Diamonds. She saw past my age and experience and solely judged me by my merit which was incredibly humbling, despite the responsibility attached to it.
Patti’s only request was that I highlight the beauty of the gemstones given. How was that even possible? I set aside their astronomical value and approached the task as I would any project, by thinking of colours that would best complement the main gemstone.
One design was particularly challenging, as I held an enormous 21.15 carat oval diamond of M colour. I realized then how difficult it would be to create an exciting wearable piece with such a sizeable stone, without it looking vulgar. I also wanted to somehow enhance the faint yellow diamond by adding colour. I set about creating an Art Deco inspired cuff in which the diamond would be nestled within a pavé surround of fiery yellow sapphires and a base of white diamonds set in 18k yellow gold. By doing so, I simultaneously injected colour, light and warmth within the diamond, creating an optical illusion of sorts.
Lily Gabriella Fine Jewellery Diamond and Sapphire Cuff
I’m particularly proud of that piece and feel like I kept my end of the deal. Every stone is unique and has character, I believe a jeweller’s main focus is to allow it to reach its full potential.
Is there a particular place you visit when you feel the need to be inspired?
I tend to be sensitive to my surroundings, I like to observe A LOT! Whether it’s people, places, objects, scents, I often imagine tales connected to what I see – it’s a bit odd but I could happily sit on a bench in a park and immerse myself in the environment.
Travel has always been a part of me. I have been fortunate to be able to do so since I was born, have lived in different countries, and have had experiences that shaped who I am. I crave wanderlust and immersing myself in unfamiliar cultures.
I currently live in London, a melting pot of nationalities and a source of inspiration. In general, wherever I am, I tend to go to museums often. The closest one to me in London is the Victoria and Albert, which happens to be one of my favourites as it is so diverse and its collections span thousand of years – from ancient civilizations to contemporary art, furniture and jewellery – a testament to human creativity. You will also find me often at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, a truly magical place filled with wonderful performances.
Covent Garden Royal Opera House
How do you hope someone feels when they put on one of your jewels?
I hope someone feels empowered, beautiful, happy! I believe a jewel is an extension of your personality and an emotional investment first and foremost despite its intrinsic value.
Lily Gabriella Fine Jewellery Ear Pendants
Are you currently working on anything new you hope to be able to share soon?
I am working on a few unique pieces at the moment but am mostly very excited to be experimenting with titanium for the first time. The whole process is captivating! We are currently sampling colour gradients by anodizing titanium, it is literally like painting with electric currents!
What is your personal philosophy?
My philosophy has always been to try and stay true to myself, be kind to myself and others, and not be influenced by anyone – your story is unique to you.
If you could ask a living industry peer one question, what would you ask and to whom would you ask it?
As a little girl, I would often visit SJ Phillips in Mayfair with my grandparents and marvel at the wonderful antique jewels showcased amidst gorgeous objets de vertu and fine silverware
SJ Phillips is one of the oldest family owned antique dealers in the world and a literal treasure trove of dreams, so it was – and still is – such a treat to visit. My question would be for Jonathan Norton, one of the great-grandsons of the founder, and I would ask: what was the worst decision you ever made?
I think humility is one’s greatest asset and, despite running a successful, reputable business spanning over 150 years, admitting to a significant lack in judgment is showing that one has character, strength and wisdom. I personally see mistakes or any setbacks, as opportunities – I’ve always been a “glass half full” kind of person, there has to be a silver lining regardless of the situation.