The Sybil Series has been hailed as iconic. What inspired you to create it?
The name Sybil is an homage to the ancient mythological Greek prophetesses who delivered their prophecies in riddles because the pieces explore contradictions and contrasting themes, which at first blush, can seem mysterious. The tension between motion and stillness, fragility and strength, heft and weightlessness - these things interest me. There is a subtle, natural asymmetry to the human form. The left side of my face is not same as the right side. Everyone has their “profile side” for taking photos. The Sybil ring was the first piece in the series. We start with a sturdy frame, and hand-weave a finely-spun filament of gold around the frame so that every piece is unique and individual, as is the wearer. The final composition is mysterious and captivating. It seems to be in permanent motion, like a spinning wheel.
From international lawyer to jewellery designer is quite a journey.…
That’s true. Again, it’s about duality. I came to fine jewellery design as a second career, having spent 18 years practicing intellectual property law at some of the largest tech companies in California’s Silicon Valley. I felt it was time to allow my creative side to flourish, but still wasn’t sure which path to pursue. Through a series of night classes, I tested the waters in textile design, photography and eventually, metalsmithing. There my quest ended. I was instantly fascinated by working with metals. The ability to create lasting beauty out of raw materials, the alchemy of seeing metals change form, the thrill of making pieces by hand. This led to the formation of Lola Fenhirst in 2015.
How do you define luxury?
Two elements define luxury for me – the highest quality materials and scarcity. Regardless of how expensive something is, if it can be found everywhere, it’s faux luxury.
If you were not a jewellery designer, what would you be or do?
My childhood dream career was to be a London bus conductor, but sadly that job no longer exists. If I had not embarked on a career as a jewellery designer, I imagine I would have continued my legal career uninterrupted. Then, of course, there’s always writing, which I dabble in as well.
What is the one daily indulgence you cannot do without?
That would be tea. No milk nor sugar. Just piping hot whole leaf tea.
What do you love the most about being a jewellery designer?
I love being part of the tribe that gets to call themselves jewellery designers. It’s a special thing to be. I love the oddness and uniqueness of the people that make up this world, and its traditions and codes. Things like going to a gem dealer and sorting through parcels and parcels of exquisite gemstones and knowing instantly when you find the right piece, the studied quietness of being in the atelier with the artisans watching metal and stone transformed into art.
Conversely, what do you like the least about being a jewellery designer?
The harsh environmental impact of extracting the minerals and from the earth, especially since it does not have to be this way. That’s why ethical and responsible sourcing are key to the future of the industry. It’s encouraging that sustainability and provenance are no longer ancillary concerns for consumers but have increasingly become key factors in a purchase decision, especially among younger clientele.