Appreciating fine jewelry is easy, thanks to the way it twinkles in the light and the special feeling it gives you. But for Anna Harvey, winner of the Masters In Jewelry Design scholarship at Istituto Marangoni, it’s more than an appreciation – it’s a passion. “Ever since I was little, I’ve loved playing with beads. I’ve always been attracted to sparkly things, and the process of piecing together beautiful jewels and different materials in my designs feels so natural. It’s something I’ve been interested in for as long as I can remember.”
As a teenager, Anna explored her enthusiasm for jewelry design further, using a 12 month school project as a chance to experiment. “We were challenged with creating an art piece over our senior year, so I put together a collection of jewelry designs based on fairy tales from around the world. I dreamed up a necklace inspired by Cinderella, and a Red Riding Hood watch.” Anna creates her designs using gouache – a thick watercolour paint that produces detailed yet delicate renderings, which are usually painted to scale.
After studying Archaeology and Anthropology at Durham University, where she graduated with First Class Honours, Anna looked into pursuing jewelry design at Istituto Marangoni in London, where she happened upon their scholarship in collaboration with the Natural Diamond Council. “I was desperate to further my skills in designing, so spent a month perfecting my application for the scholarship.
“My goal was to create designs that emphasised the beauty and rarity of natural diamonds, as well as the process that a diamond undertakes to go from a rough rock to a polished gemstone. I looked at everything from the chemical structure of the diamonds and how the atoms are arranged, to the actual cone shape of a mine. I took it right back to the natural process.”
The result was a portfolio of eight hand-painted jewelry designs – two necklaces, a clip, a bracelet, a watch, two pairs of earrings and a ring. Her favorite piece from the collection is “the 18 carat white gold choker with square shaped and pear cut diamonds, referencing the fact diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
Two weeks after submitting her application, Anna received the news that she had won the scholarship. “I was over the moon. As well as financial support, the scholarship means I’ll have access to jewelry experts and diamond specialists who can advise me on questions I might have. It also means I can set up interviews with diamond cutters, or ethical experts, and will really open the doors to respected people in the industry.” Beyond that, the 21-year-old is most excited to “develop my skills on the course, and to experiment with digital design and mediums I might not have used before.”
For Anna, inspiration for her designs can come from anywhere. “I love vintage and antique pieces of jewelry, which means I often spend time digging through flea markets or thrift stores. I also keep up to date with what the big jewelry stores are doing – Cartier, Graff and Van Cleef & Arpels– so I’m aware of the latest trends.”
And it’s not just about what the designs look like; Anna takes note of the material combinations, too.
“Once I’ve pictured how I want a piece to look, I’ll research which metals match well with certain precious stones, and what settings work best. I’ll start sketching from there, taking into account how a piece might look around someone’s neck or their finger. I love using black onyx or black enamel in my designs, because it helps the stone you’re using to really pop thanks to the contrast in colour.”
While the focus right now is the Masters In Jewelry Design scholarship, the dream for Anna is to land a job at one of the prestigious jewelry brands. “I would love to design wearable and beautiful pieces that people treasure. I want them to feel good in my designs, and to appreciate how it feels on their bodies. “For me, jewelry is the intersection between art and functionality, and that’s beautiful. There’s truly nothing better than someone wearing a design piece that everyone in the room can appreciate.”