UK based Jewellery designer Catherine Marche, talks to IndependentBoutique.com about bringing French playfulness to design.
How do you describe to people what you do and your design style?
Bonjour ! My jewellery speaks to the stylish women and men who want to wear something elegant fun and versatile, with a "certain Je ne sais quoi" French twist. My creations are handcrafted by "moi" in London with sterling silver, 18 carat gold enhanced by luscious gemstones and shimmering pearls. I am a fashion chameleon and live to sail the trends and eras according to my clients' mood.
What sort of comments do you get about your designs?
My favourite comment is of course "I want one!” I am told my jewellery is desirable because of the use of simple and organic lines, resulting in chic and glamorous French elegance style. People even tend to recognize my illustrative story telling in some of my pieces.
What is your background?
My first job was as a high school mathematics teacher, followed by many years as an IT consultant. I have also attended ecole des Beaux Arts and art schools like Central St Martin’s and London College of Fashion where I learnt fashion illustration, etching and printmaking. My paintings, prints and illustrations have been used in magazines, advertising, on garments, graced London's underground stations and are in several private and public collections.
Why did you start doing what you do?
After the birth of my children, I gave into my love of sparkly gems and jewels and trained as a jeweller. Being freelance allows me to tailor my days to the little ones' needs and to indulge in my jewellery and fashion addictions. Amongst my addiction stand fresh Belgium chocolate and macaroons. You will agree that jewellery is much more reasonable.
I love being able to make jewellery as I like combining styles and collections to create my own identity. I do not hesitate to mix vintage and new creations, like simple lines that enhance your own being. I also enjoy being able to create "fashionable" goodies in precious metals, that will last much more than a season to become a classic staple to be transferred to the next generation.
Which designers do you rate highly and why?
I like the extravagance of Jean-Paul Gautier, the sexyness of Azzadine Alaia's tailored creations and the dresses from Tara Jarmon for every day wear I also like the creativity of Lolita de Lempicka's couture, perfume bottles and ads.
Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves...
I can be inspired by antiquity, a gemstone, a music, a word, feelings... I work in 2 ways, either playing with the metal until something I like happens or sketching ideas and developing something from the initial sketches. I quite like making models, experimenting along the way with different combinations of materials and layouts.
The production process can last from 3-6 weeks. I tend to make everything from scratch, even multiples, in order to keep each piece more individual. I will be looking into casting some pieces to speed up the making process; although I will still have to clean up, finish and polish the jewels which have been casted.
How do you think your brand has developed?
I am adding new pieces and collections from the initial few pieces I started with, which all belonged to the knitted and the Blum Blum Collections. I am developing the Volutes range at present to add necklaces and more earrings.
What do you hate most about your job?
Nothing really. I would say that you have to be very Health and Safety aware as you will use dangerous substances most days. I also find the constantly rising prices of gold and silver, not to mention platinum can be tricky.
What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now?
I have been thrilled to see my jewellery in books like 1000 Jewelry inspirations and the Encyclopedia of jewellery techniques where my Volutes cuffs were used as an example for the technique of Photo etching, which I use.
I was also very happy to have one of my gold chain necklaces selected for the launch of London Jewellery Week on the catwalk at the Royal Exchange with the likes of Boodles and David Bachet and being in the evening standard.
I have also been delighted to be shortlisted for the Holts academy of Jewellery awards, a finalist at the Precious award, and being awarded a getting started award by the worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.
I also received a nice compliment on one of my Cuffs from a very fashion savvy celebrity (who was in Sex and The City), and cannot wait to see many more people wearing my creations. My best compliment is when someone likes what I do enough to desire a bespoke commission. I really enjoy the interaction with the customers to make their dream come to life.
What advice would you have for anyone starting out in jewellery?
Believe in YOUR vision, be confident, go for it and eat lots of dark chocolate. Working in the studio can be a lonely experience, you might want to look for partners or to share a workshop.
Why do you think British design stands out on the global stage?
Only in the UK will you find such a variety of street styles and eccentricity. There is a love story going one between the public and the designers, each inspiring the other. There are also great schools which create daring people eager to push boundaries.