Jeweller Liv Luttrell on the beauty of the abstract

The London-based jeweller Liv Luttrell is known for her dramatic, hand-made pieces. Here, she speaks to Something About Rocks about her inspirations, her motivations, and the vital lessons she learned launching her business during the global pandemic

21 July 2022

By Kim Parker

With a background in fine art and gemmology, the London-based jeweller Liv Luttrell designs hand-made pieces that are both sensual and sculptural. Her jewels are known for their dramatic shapes and sinuous curves, which trace the lines of the body in recycled gold and responsibly-sourced gemstones. Here, she discusses her inspirations, her motivations, and the vital lessons she learned launching her business during the global pandemic.

London-based jeweller, Liv Luttrell

Q: How did you get started in the jewellery industry?

A: It’s been a bit of a journey. I first went to art school, making lots of jewellery for my project work, but was always fascinated with science at the same time. So after I graduated, I went to study at the Gemological Institute of America and become instantly obsessed with gemstones. After that, I worked in the field of gem and diamond sourcing for a little while, and relished knowing about the science of sourcing, but then missed the creative side of the industry, the coming together of a design at the end of the whole process. I then applied to study goldsmithing at the Holts Academy in Hatton Garden, to help me understand the technical side of making jewellery. In 2016, just as I was finishing there, I started making bespoke pieces under my name. My first official collection, which I call Editions, came out in 2017-2018, which is when I really honed in on making larger, more sculptural jewels. I then formally launched my brand as it is today in April 2020. Now, I work with a team of amazing goldsmiths, some of whom have been at the bench for 35 years.

Q: How would you describe your aesthetic?

A: I would say it’s organic, sculptural and minimalist. I spend a lot of my time paring shapes back until I get them into what I consider to be their most potent form. A lot of my work has to do with curves and everything really fitting to the body.

I’d say my strongest reference points come from mid-20th century architecture. I often find myself drawn to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Oscar Niemeyer. I also love taking cues from small, unexpectedly practical things, like the butterfly infills that hold pieces of wood together. That is a practical element that’s been made beautiful, which I find inspiring. There’s something beautiful about taking a detail and making it abstract. I spend a lot of time at exhibitions like Masterpiece in London, looking at all the amazing antique furniture.

I’m also inspired by nature, but less in a figurative way. I’d say my work is more experiential – I’m always trying to capture the feeling of something like the breeze, or the impact of a landscape. During lockdown, I was lucky to be isolating at my parents’ house in the Dorsets countryside, and I found myself carving a set of silver rings that tried to capture what it was like to be out amidst all the rolling hills and valleys.

Q: What were the important lessons you learned from launching your business at the start of the pandemic in 2020?

A: At the time, it could have been easy to get frustrated about not being able to do a big launch, or having to push dates back on things, but looking back, I was very grateful that I already had a lot of repeat clients that I could continue to work with on a one-to-one basis. It meant I could grow the business conservatively, spend more time on developing those good relationships and build a good foundation, rather than rushing into anything. Hopefully, it’s stood me in good stead.

Q: What have been some of the challenges and rewards of being a young woman with your own business, in an industry that can be super competitive?

A: I was quite young when I first got started, 22 or 23 I think. There were definitely some workshops that I first approached that had a culture which was very macho, very masculine and they could be very patronising, which was quite challenging. But since then, I’ve been able to gather an amazing team around me – one of the workshops I use now has an inter-generational family setup, and it’s being passed from father to daughter. It’s wonderful to have a truly collaborative relationship with your workshop – you need somewhere that takes your ideas seriously and also is happy to riff on them with you, to come up with the very best designs. My work is obviously very contemporary, but I integrate a lot of very traditional techniques in making them, so the knowledge and the trust has got to be there.

There are a lot more women around now in Hatton Garden, and I also work with quite a few female diamond dealers in Germany, which I think is pretty unusual be the previous generation’s standards.

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to commission a bespoke piece of jewellery for the first time?

A: I’d say do your research. Find a jeweller who has a style that really resonates with you. And then trust them and their opinions. When you’re working with the right person, you will be able to spend time discussing ideas and they should be able to distill what you want down into a piece that will suit you and your lifestyle.

The other thing I would say is know how you want to wear the piece of jewellery. Will it be for every day? Is it a one-off thing for a special occasion? If you’re having something very large made, you might want to think about how many opportunities you’re going to have to wear it and how comfortable it will be.

Q: What’s coming up next for you?

A: Just before Christmas last year I did an exhibition with the Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery, where I showed my Obi ear pendants. They were one-off and very sculptural which I’d developed and made over lockdown. They’ve turned into a starting point for a longer journey for me, on some bigger, more unusual pieces which I’m working on now. I’m also toying with the idea of objects, but we’ll see. Everything starts off as a bit of a sculpture and it can go in any direction.

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