Yellow Jewellery is a Cape Town based jewellery design brand that produces hand made jewellery objects using sterling silver with an influence from nature and architecture. We spoke to the founder and creator Jessica Lea to find out about her brand, her latest collection, and what inspires her work.
Who is Jessica Lea?
I am 22 years old and make jewellery, but I am very into music, books, art, photography – all the things the kids are into these days. I just realized this is the first September I’ve spent in Cape Town in two years. I moved to New York to study jewellery design in Manhattan and I got back last October.
My brand, Yellow Jewellery was born out of boredom in 2009, literally using beads and feathers. I got picked up by more shops, then the standard got higher and I’ve since progressed to working with silver. I realized I wanted to make well-made, quality pieces.
Tell us more about your brand
Yellow is a Cape Town based brand where all the creations are designed with heart and made carefully by hand using sterling silver and semi-precious stones. The creations at Yellow hold a modern aesthetic. Nature, art and architecture hold a level of influence over the style of the brand. All the pieces are made in the same vein of love, often overlapping and crossing genres to redefine whats typically considered beautiful. The essence of Yellow is to create pieces of art that are not only wearable but that are progressive and timeless and that make people feel good.
Talk us through the work you have produced and collaborated on
2014 was the first time I worked with silver, The Aeon Collection was the first range of silver collection I made. The range consisted only of rings. Then I left for New York to learn more so I could make more. The Luna Collection is our second range. The first full handmade silver collection, necklaces and earrings included.
We have exhibited at various shows and markets around the world since 2013 including Design Indaba in Cape Town (2014, 2015), Kamersvol Geskenke in Stellenbosch (2013, 2015), Grahamstown National Arts Festival in Grahamstown (2014), Sunday Upmarket on Brick Lane in London (2013), International Jewellery London (2014), Renegade Craft Fair in New York City (2015) and Artists & Fleas in Brooklyn, New York (2013, 2015).
You seem to draw inspiration from nature and architecture, what draws you to this?
Cape Town – we have the most beautifully scenic and pretty city on the planet, I think nature is something thats in our blood. There is no better designer than nature, it’s soul food. Also Architecture, which must have influenced me on my time away in New York.
Describe the design process in creating your jewellery
It’s quick and painless, until you have tried melting your fifth attempt at a ring and decide you are going to go train lions as a career instead. The process of every design is as different as the idea behind it. It starts with the idea, the concept – a burst of inspiration and hopefully you can translate that, either through forging metal or carving wax. Either way, both require hours of buffing silver smooth and then polishing it shiny. It’s an incredibly glamorous process.
Tell us about your latest collection- the Luna Collection – what was the inspiration behind it?
Luna was inspired by the sun, the moon and the alchemy of life. The opals, also known as the ‘precious stone’, represent the delicately interconnected waves of life and space and the precious beauty of it all. This collection describes the duality of solar, the lunar and how seemingly opposite forces may actually be complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world.
Who do you envision wearing your work? Is it something you constantly think about when producing your designs?
I make things that I would wear. When I was younger, I struggled to find things I wanted to wear so I realized I could spend the rest of my life making them. I don’t really consider who will wear them, they are open to anyone who loves jewelry. That’s why it is so refreshing and suprising when I see someone in one of my designs.
Who are some of your favourite local jewelllery designers and why?
Who is your favourite creative on Instagram we should be following?
I like people with personality. Face Hunter is someone I follow on Snapchat and subsequently I followed him on Instagram too. He’s in a different city nearly every week, I love how he draws himself into the culture of the place he’s visiting. He learns the language, photographs the most stylish people and gives you little facts about the culture. He’s incredible.
Name three décor trends you are currently obsessed with at the moment?
I like geometric mobiles, and the air plant holders by Elsje Designs. Also a pink couch, that’s right up there on the list.
Complete the sentence: I see jewellery design in South Africa as…
A progressive culture beyond limits and an art genre I am honored to be a part of.
Images courtesy of Jessica Lea
More Yellow Jewellery
Digital Intern Lucille Dyosi finds herself between phases and places. She is an observer and takes in inspiration from the simplest things in life. If she’s not enjoying food, she’s reading a book by her favourite author Bessie Head.
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