Kirsty Stone, founder of and designer behind the brand Retrouvai, has always been a jewelry girl. “My grandma worked for a costume house, and I grew up being decorated, playing dress up, being the creative kid,” she exclusively tells Only Natural Diamonds. “My mom recalls taking me to relatives’ homes where I would ask to see their jewelry boxes.” But her true introduction to fine jewelry was when she inherited a gold and diamond ring from her grandmother. “At that point I recognized the piece as precious and valuable, but also realized an emotional attachment I had to this piece,” she explains.
Stone’s journey as a designer has since flourished and she’s giving us an inside peek at how she went from a jewelry admirer to one of the most sought-after designers in the industry. Ahead, get to know Stone, the inspiration behind her most iconic designs for Retrouvai and how being a mother contributes to her vision of fine jewelry.
Only Natural Diamonds:Tell me your design story, when did you first get interested in fine jewelry and how did you make a career out of it?
Kirsty Stone: The gold and diamond ring from my grandma that had six diamonds of all different sizes that she had made by her local jeweler was the impetus for starting my collection. When I decided to start making jewelry, I started in Silver and Bronze, only moving to Gold and Platinum when I realized I couldn’t achieve the level of detail I wanted. As I learned the art of jewelry making, I realized that I needed to work with more expensive materials to justify the labor that was going into my designs. It took me a couple of years to actually articulate my point of view, and most of what I made, in the beginning, was . . . not great, to say the least.
OND: What’s your first memory of a natural diamond?
KS: A ring I inherited from my grandma with six round brilliant stones of different sizes, a prong set onto a lattice-style cigar band. This was the first piece I remember having a strong connection to immediately. It was given to my mom at some point when I was a teenager and I asked to inherit it early.
OND: How would you describe the Retrouvai woman?
KS: Independent, fancy, young at heart, with a strong sense of their own personal style.
OND: Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?
KS: The marriage of nostalgia with strong modern messages remains at the core of Retrouvai. Aesthetically I am inspired by contemporary fine art, architecture, and photography — I particularly love the work of Norman Parkinson. The actual ideas for specific collections come from within. They represent an expression, a particular idea (like fearlessness, love, etc.) through this brand’s lens.
OND: What was the moment in your career as a designer where you were like, “ok I think I’m doing something right here.”
KS: When we were picked up by Barneys in 2016/2017 that felt very validating. Early on I found myself really passionate about what I was doing but having a harder time articulating the brand and being confident in my work because I felt so vulnerable!
OND: Why do you choose to use natural diamonds?
KS: We exclusively use ethically sourced natural diamonds and colored gemstones because they are rare and much more emotionally symbolic for me as a designer. We have not considered synthetic and lab-grown alternatives which have little history or value retention. The hunt for a natural diamond involves an element of theunknown, you never know what you’re going to find. I have also recently been loving repurposing antique and vintage diamonds.
OND: What’s one piece of diamond jewelry that you wear that feels the most personal to you?
KS: Of all the pieces I’ve made myself, my emerald-cut Diamond Eternity Bands, though very simple, is probably the most personal because they are my wedding bands.
OND: Do you have diamond jewelry that you hope to pass down to your children and grandchildren someday?
KS: Without question, there are many pieces. All of my personal jewelry is earmarked at creation for one of my (soon to be 3) daughters. I feel fortunate to share my life passion with them on a regular basis but also know that they will inherit pieces that were created for specific moments throughout my life. I have a combination of antique Diamond pieces and modern cut Diamonds, and I hope they will find beauty in each one being completely one-of-a-kind.
OND: Have you ever designed something with your daughters in mind?
KS: Yes! When my first daughter was born, I created a Violet Sapphire and round brilliant Diamond pinky ring to honor her birth. I have since decided to make each daughter one piece a year on their birthday. When they turn 30, I will gift them their jewelry boxes with all of their special dated pieces from the past thirty years.
OND: How does being a mom influence your creative thinking and design process?
KS: Collections predating my children held messages I imagined instilling in them someday, but I’ll always remember my first collection after becoming a mom. Named Alchemy, it represents transformation. For me, it was a very vulnerable period of time. On one hand, creative thinking became harder, I have much less time and mental space. On the other hand, I have an entirely new perspective and a reminder of possibility, which is a gift.
OND: Did you inherit jewelry from your own mother?
KS: Actually, not much! The only ring I inherited from my mother specifically was a cluster diamond ring that belonged to my mother’s mother. Now I make my mom whatever she wants, and I don’t expect these pieces to become mine for quite some time.