Ten questions with William Welstead
1. How did you come to jewellery design?
In the mid nineties I was travelling in the Himalayas and became very interested in antique tibetan turquoise and cornelian beads and this started a quest to learn more about gem stones. I studied gemmology at the Gemmological Association in London and when I completed my course I went to India to buy diamonds in all shapes and sizes.
2. Which comes first, the stone or the design?
The stone always comes first. When I see a stone that is right for me I usually know what I am going to make with it.
3. Who inspires you and why?
There is a certain glamour that existed in England in the 1930s that is typified by the Mitford sisters and I always think about them when I am working on a collection. I do have a number of clients who I find very inspiring and I love to see them wearing my pieces but I choose not to name them!
4. What jewellery do you wear?
I don’t wear anything other than a watch but I often have a jewel or two in my pockets.
5. If you had unlimited access to materials, what would you create?
I would really enjoy making a necklace with a beautiful and large Indian cut briolette diamond but I really like working with stones which show their natural origins and I find great beauty in natural imperfections.
6. What is your creative process like when you work with a client on a custom piece?
Clients tend to come and see me at the offices of Harry Fane in London to discuss commissions. It is particularly enjoyable for them if I have just returned from a buying trip. I will show them my stones and discuss how I see them being used. Often I will have pieces that have already been made which will help inform the choice of settings. I really like to work with flat stones which sit close to the finger or make very light delicate earrings.
7. Which of your designs is your favourite, and why?
I love these flat diamond earrings with a fine pave surround. They have an almost glacial quality to them and they are so beautiful on.
8. Are there any commissions you would turn down and if so, why?
I really don’t work with modern brilliant cut diamonds because I like stones that whisper rather than shout.
9. Which jeweller/designer is someone whose work you admire, and why?
Cartier in the 1930s when they worked with incredible Indian stones belonging to the Maharajas was wonderful.
10. Which stones do you most enjoy working with?
I love Indian cut diamonds, Burmese spinels and sapphires.