Meet: fine jewellery designer, Tessa Packard

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Briefly summarise your role, what are you and what do you do?

I am the founder and creative director of Tessa Packard London, a London-based fine jewellery label.

What was your first job and what did you do previously

My first job was as an intern at Sotheby’s aged 16. In the university holidays I then interned for Dickinson, the art dealers based in Mayfair. When I left university they offered me a job in their Impressionist and Modern Art department and that’s where I worked for 4 years before founding Tessa Packard London.

Why did you decide to move into jewellery?

As a teenager I wanted to be an accessories designer. Fine art was a strong passion of mine and I doodled my way through hundreds of text books and sketch pads at school. Still life drawing gave me the most pleasure. I was inspired by the great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and George Stubbs who strove to understand how forms functioned – how they were put together. I have always seen jewellery as an extension of art – as sculpture in miniature – so for me, becoming a jewellery designer was a rather logical arena to enter into considering my earlier career.

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How do you get inspired?

A source of inspiration can be as random as a museum exhibit, a snippet of conversation, an art installation, a saying or a magazine article.

Talk to me about your love of taxidermy and how does this relate to your jewellery?

I grew up in a house full of taxidermy – the ostrich was as much part of the furniture as the sofa. I’ve never found taxidermy to be morbid – quite the opposite really, and I suppose that is partly because I have always been fascinated by the Victorian curiosity cabinet and the idea of ‘collecting’. Dead animals just always seemed normal to me and I knew from a very early age that I wanted to have my own collection of them too.

Who do you think of when designing your jewellery? Does your customer have particular character traits/desires/aesthetic? Who is the ‘Tessa Packard Girl’?

The Tessa Packard girl knows her own mind when it comes to style. She buys what she likes and transitions between the traditional and the more avant-garde with ease. Her outfits always look polished but not too polished; her jewellery is statement but never showy. She knows that often less is more and design is key. She would never buy diamond earrings because they were diamond earrings. She would buy them because they were the most interesting diamond earrings she had seen.

Take me briefly through your average day?

Breakfast is key and must be eaten within 20 minutes of getting out of bed, otherwise I get very grumpy. Ditto a strong cup of black coffee. These two things are non-negotiable.

Dogs out, emails done and I’m at my desk, ready to formally start the day at 9am. If its raining I’ll yearn for a desk day, where I can concentrate on design work, graphics or maybe a spot of research. If its beautiful weather I’ll yearn for a day of meetings where I can wonder around London and enjoy the city’s buzz.

Depending on what’s going on, we usually finish about 6pm. If I’m feeling enthused or energetic I might go on until dinner, but normally I can be found cigarette and G&T in hand by 7pm.

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What is the piece you have been the most proud of?

I love the Mexicana Ring. From a design / engineering point of view its rather clever as the central band and side stones come apart, allowing you to constantly customise your own ring with new metal colours and stone combinations.

Talk to me about your new collaboration?

I have just finished designing a 20 piece collection for the Amsterdam-based fine jewellers House of Eleonore. Its been a really remarkable experience – both from a professional and design point of view – and I am very excited about seeing the finished pieces.

Name a jeweller you aspire to be like/admire their work

If I could come close to the workmanship of Hemmerle, the ingenuity of JAR and the reputation of Cartier I would be very happy.

Hobbies? What do you do during down time?

Escape to the countryside as quick as can. Walk the dogs, watch TV by the fire and have plenty of G&Ts in quick succession.

What drives you and how do you stay focused working for yourself?

I’m very lucky that I have determination and ego in equal measure. The determination gets me out of bed, the ego makes sure I do my best to succeed.

Favourite resto in London

Its got to be Manicomio in Chelsea as I seem to spend my life there…

Favourite pub in London

The Thomas Cubitt on Elizabeth Street, for exactly the same reasons as stated above!

To check out Tessa Packard’s collections, click below:

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