There Are No Rules When Designing Your Own Wedding Jewelry
Get to know the sister duo behind Beaufille.By Elana Zajdman |
Before the sister-design duo behind the cult-favorite fashion label Beaufille each got engaged, Chloe Gordon and Parris (Gordon) Morris knew they wanted rings that were both unique to their personal style and anything but traditional when it comes to natural diamond ring settings. Chloe and Parris sat down with the Natural Diamond Council on one rainy evening this past January, in Paris, while they were in town shooting their PF23 lookbook and campaign. What was apparent from the start is their incredible sisterly bond and passion for the unconventional when it comes to both their fashion and jewelry choices.
Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, some might say the Gordon sisters were destined to work together. From a young age in Toronto, Canada, Chloe and Parris have always been tight knit. “Growing up we were very close as sisters which created a strong foundation for our creative partnership. We always had little businesses together; selling lemonade or painted rocks.” From a young age they talked about working together one day, not knowing what that might be. However, it became quite clear to them upon graduating.
Both sisters attended the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. Chloe has a background in textile and fashion design, while Parris’s background is in jewelry design and metalsmithing. “The school is very conceptual, and you learn how to make everything from scratch – ie. spinning yarn out of handfuls of wool and creating a ring from a flat sheet of silver,” notes Gordon Morris. Soon after honing their respective crafts in art school, it was natural and innate for them to combine their work and create a brand together. “Soon in the process we began getting recognition and started making sales. We’ve kept with it ever since.”
Beaufille initially began making jewelry with semi-precious materials including silver and stones in the quartz family. They developed their first demi-fine jewelry collection in 2015 using natural diamonds, opals, rubies, and aquamarine set in 14K gold. “We produced demi-fine jewelry for a few seasons after that but began to re-focus on fashion jewelry collections in silver & pearls due to demand. Currently, we have a collection of repurposed demi-fine pieces using natural diamonds available exclusively on our website,” adds Gordon Morris. They also offer custom fine jewelry pieces that are made-to-order which has been an exciting and growing part of their Beaufille brand.
Parris, what was the inspiration behind your 18K gold engagement ring and wedding band?
Parris Gordon Morris: My engagement ring was inspired by a brilliant jewelry designer Alice Waese. As a trained metalsmith I’ve spent a lot of my career trying to make metal look perfect, symmetrical, and flawless. When I came across Alice’s work, I instantly felt free of that. I felt I could get rid of what I “should do” or what was “right to do” as a jeweler and embrace my instincts. Her approach and aesthetic felt like an a-ha moment to me. I’m a little clumsy and hard handed by nature and discovering her work empowered me to embrace this. I’ve always been really into hand-textured gold, embracing flaws in the process of jewelry making, asymmetry and unusual stones or stone placement, but never felt I could do this because of how I was trained. But to me, this is how you make pieces truly one-of-a-kind. I knew I wanted my engagement ring to embrace this. I’ve known for a long time, I’m not a one stone on a band girl or a white diamond girl. I loved the idea of having two bands in my engagement ring to represent the two people involved in the relationship. I prefer champagne diamonds over white so knew those were a must-have as well!
My wedding band, to most, might look more like the engagement ring! This was the first fine jewelry piece I got to make myself, to wear every day, that would also act as an advertisement for my work. Due to the nature and movement of my engagement ring, I knew my wedding band would sit on top of it vs (traditionally) under it. I wanted it to be more unconventional in shape and symmetry so that my moveable engagement ring could still do its thing. It was important to me that it both complemented my engagement ring while also enhancing it. Shortly after I got engaged my diamond dealer showed me a picture of diamonds in different colors and shapes that his supplier in India had just finished cutting; I instantly knew these were my stones. I couldn’t stop thinking about them for months and bugged him often about ordering them even without a confirmed selection. We received the parcel in early summer, and he let me sit with all of them for as long as I needed to choose my stones.
I spent hours sorting and staring and after a few rounds of weighing the stones to determine pricing, I found my grouping. I love a bezel setting, it’s my favorite setting style, so I knew these would be bezel set. I played around with the layout a lot. First, physically, and then inputting the stones in Illustrator to scale, printing out the flat layout in different variations. I made paper rings from the printouts to assess with my engagement ring until the layout felt right. I try and make all my decisions on gut feeling, but I had COVID while making my final decisions for my wedding band and was so worried I wasn’t thinking straight. I had to just trust my gut despite the brain fog. I submitted my final layout to my CAD designer and began making it in 18K gold. Like all my favorite designs, I was initially stoked, then a little unsure of it for months. I can confirm I am truly obsessed, it’s me in ring form. I feel it has all the elements that are becoming my signatures, asymmetrical designs, bezel settings, unconventional use of stones, and unconventional engagement-wedding jewelry design. I’m very proud of it and feel very lucky to wear it every day!
Aside from being thoughtful innovators in the jewelry and fashion space, it’s their humbleness that also sets them apart. In a world where many designers shy away from transparency, this is at the core of Beaufille’s DNA and important to how the Gordon sisters live their personal lives. Once Parris designed her engagement ring and had her final natural diamond selection, she chose to have her dear friend and fellow jewelry designer Lauren Hogarth, bring her idea to life. Due to it being such a personal project, Parris knew that as a control freak, she wanted the uber talented Hogarth to bring her rings to fruition because she had the impeccable skills to do so. “She’s incredibly talented, more technically skilled on the bench than me, she could handle my hyper descriptive emails, little design details and personal preferences. She knows me well, we’re very close. She handed over the ring of my dreams to my fiancé, made immaculately, better than I had envisioned. I was blown away. We work with the same diamond dealer and setter who hand carved the settings on the diamond band of my engagement ring. It’s beautiful craftsmanship that a lot of people don’t do anymore. I’m that special kind of terror to propose to that wants to design her own ring while also being surprised and proposed to in a traditional way. They nailed it.”
When it came to designing her sister Choe’s engagement ring, Parris was more than up for the challenge though her nerves were ever-present.
What was the inspiration behind your sister Chloe’s engagement ring? Did she give you any input or was the design a total surprise?
PGM: I had close to 100 custom projects under my belt by the time Chloe’s fiancé asked me to make her engagement ring but it was still the most terrifying project to date. I was SO nervous. I would say it was equal parts nerve racking and special! Chloe had promised me an inspiration folder for months, but it never came.
In true Parris fashion, she had to rely on her gut for this one too.
“I had to go off Chloe loving my engagement ring, she said it changed her idea of what this type of jewelry could be. Loving antique jewelry, she wanted something that looked like a fossil from the earth. I knew her beautiful long fingers could handle a bold “cigar band” and that as a fashion designer she would benefit from something flat that wouldn’t catch on fabric. Her fiancé is very into science and math, incorporating it often into his work (he’s a fashion designer, Sid Neigum!) so when I suggested randomly gypsy setting champagne diamonds into the ring, he asked if they could be in a Fibonacci sequence layout pattern. I handed over the grid to my diamond setter with my eyes shut hoping for the best and he did a beautiful job.”
With Chloe’s upcoming nuptials, are you currently working on her wedding band as well? Can you share any details about this design or is it top secret?
PGM: “Not yet! Stay tuned.”
Known for experimenting with interesting new textiles each season, the Gordon sisters love to challenge themselves while always keeping sustainability a top priority. Despite having a thriving fashion and jewelry business, little is known about Parris and Chloe’s lives behind the scenes and we’re eager to reveal a little tea.
Can you share your engagement stories?
PGM: I met my husband Mookie 10 years ago after I moved in with our mutual friend (and our brand’s photographer and creative collaborator) Sarah Blais. He came to our housewarming party two days after I moved in and it was definitely lust at first sight. We hit it off and have been together ever since. He’s a very talented musician and performer and works managing a music venue here in Toronto. He proposed in the garden at our family’s summer home in Chester, Nova Scotia.
CG: I met Sid through a mutual friend that happened to produce both of our fashion shows at the time. He has his own fashion brand as well, so we shared a lot in common right off the bat, from our work to our schedules and deadlines to our love of art and design. He proposed to me on the balcony of our home last summer. Followed by a surprise dinner with some of our friends at an amazing local restaurant.
Family is very important to the Gordon sisters so it should be no surprise that Parris, Chloe, and their mother, artist Eve Gordon, all designed Parris’ wedding gown together.
Parris, can you tell us how your beautiful dress came to fruition?
PGM: I wanted something simple in silhouette, and tea length, and for it to be a collaboration of our fine artist mother, Chloe and myself. After amassing 300+ inspiration photos, I realized I wanted the fabric to be the special, standout element. With my sister’s background in textile creation, I knew she would execute something beautiful and special. Chloe suggested the technique be custom laser embroidery on organza with laser cut flower applique. I chose 4 of my favorite flower sketches of my mom’s, traced them in illustrator, and she made a repeat pattern out of them. We tested the fabric and absolutely fell in love with the result. The dress is made from this special, one-of-a-kind fabric that all three of us worked on, and features single embroidered flowers, hand stitched asymmetrically throughout the dress. It hangs in my closet where I can see it daily, it makes me so happy.
With many custom natural diamond projects under her belt, Parris looks forward to seeing where it leads. “I’ve been figuring out my footing and aesthetic in this world, it was never the plan to move in this direction this early in my career but it’s now the majority of my work. I am noticing clients continually referencing 3 original jewelry designs. I can see a world where we incorporate these designs and a custom program in a more public way as part of the brand in the near future.” We too, can’t wait to see what Beaufille has in store for its next 10 years!