Spotlight on: Nicole Van Der Wolf
Nicole van der Wolf is a goldsmith and gemologist and she's been working with DesignYard since 2011 in different guises. We figured it's about time we turned the spotlight on her and had a chat over a cuppa in the gallery.
You'll find Nicole at DesignYard most days, either working in the gallery or making her designer jewellery at her bench on our shop floor. And when she's not at work she loves being outdoors with her family - they are keen kite-surfers and sailors.
We asked her to describe her jewellery DNA - the red line that runs throughout her work. Here's what she had to say:
I make my jewellery by hand, most of it with gold and precious gems, often ones you may not have seen before. Some pieces are one-off designs with unique fantasy-cut gems. These statement pieces are bold in size and colour, strong in form, yet understated in their lack of "bling". This understated elegance carries over into my ready-to-wear collection. They are a great way to pick up a little gem (or two) for everyday wear.
Q. With so many gems out there how do you decide what to create?
Hmm, it depends. Sometimes the gem decides it for me. Some gems are better suited to rings and others simply call out to be a pendant or earrings. Other times a piece develops from experimenting with a particular concept or technique. My popular ShipShape pieces are a good example: the motion of the sea led me to explore the concept of kinetics. They're constructed in 3 parts - a rolling element set with a gem and a box shape that is permanently closed with rivets.
When I'm lucky it’s a collaboration between you and me – I enjoy making that personal connection. I get a kick out of showing you possibilities you mightn’t have thought of yourself: what to do with heirloom jewellery that you no longer wear, for example. It is so satisfying to remodel something old, perhaps with emotional value, into a new and modern piece that keeps its meaning.
Q. When it comes to making jewellery what kind of materials do you like working with and why?
I love working with fantasy cut gems! I can get quite excited about their colours and optical effects (yeah I'm a gem-nerd). I also like the challenge of turning the often unusual shapes into a wearable piece of jewellery.
I prefer to work directly in precious metal. Melting gold, rolling sheet or drawing wire, forging and shaping metal - it brings out my inner caveman. Yellow gold is simply a pleasure to work with. Silver is great because I can afford to play with new ideas or larger scale pieces.
Q. Do you have a particular person in mind when you design your jewellery?
I suppose it is not so much a particular person, but more a type of person: a confident person with a strong sense of style - I use the word person on purpose as I believe some of my pieces work equally well on men as on women. They are fearless people who will wear their fine jewellery any day and people with strong sense of curiosity. I mean someone who enjoys learning about something well-made and unusual. My customers appreciate the intrinsic beauty of my designs and the individual character of the often extraordinary gems. They prefer contemporary pieces with a story over something instantly recognisable or from the high street.
Q. Lastly, for a person so involved with jewellery you wear surprisingly little of it. What is your must have jewellery?
Oooh, that’s gotta be a statement necklace – ideally something personally meaningful. In my case my “Dandelion” pendant, which was inspired by my daughter discovering her first dandelion puff. I've made a few of these and they never stay on the shelf for long. I'm on the hunt for the perfect gem to star in the next one.
But really the must-have is whatever complements your (life-)style and makes you feel gorgeous every day of the week. A handmade chain can be as easy-to-wear and impactful as the big dandelion pictured here.
Sage words from Nicole! If you would like to explore Nicole van der Wolf's designer jewellery collection at DesignYard, click here. And if you would like to know more about our jewellery re-modelling service please email email@example.com. Or book your appointment to see it in person: