When you picture fine jewelry, you likely think of delicate, glittering gold and ornate designs dripping with diamonds – pieces fit for the red carpet. Fashion jewelry, on the other hand, is the kind of thing you throw on before leaving for Sunday brunch – chunky bracelets, silver earrings and a couple mismatched necklaces. At Kit and Ace, resident jewelry designer Shelley Hilliard has created a hybrid jewelry line that combines the best of your everyday, wearable pieces with the technique, craftsmanship and materials of the fanciest finery.
“There are no rules to luxury anymore,” explains Hilliard. “High-end lines are mixing it up – glass, precious stones, brass, real gold and fabric. The one trend that sticks out is mixed elements.”
With fabric being a cornerstone of the brand, Hilliard began experimenting with materials she had never previously worked with to create a representation of Kit and Ace, in jewelry form. She took on the challenge of marrying delicate, tactile fibres like silk, wool and cashmere with statement-making precious metals. Hilliard eventually transformed the yarn into wearable rope with an organic look and the soft hand-feel of cashmere. She combines precious metals like 18K rose gold with stones like grey jasper and lapis to mirror the brand’s colour story in both shop design and clothing.
“For our new SS16 line, I experimented with a slow process of literally hand-twisting the rope to get the right tension,” she says.
The meticulous technique is necessary – if it’s spun too tight, it’s not soft enough – too loose and it won’t have the right shape. “We’re creating fine jewelry in the way that we’ve made it, in the quality and the craftsmanship. But when you put those different materials together it becomes a piece that can be worn every day.”
Hilliard’s process also ensures her designs will endure day-in and day-out. Her final pieces are selected for both how they look and how they perform in durability tests.
Quality, Hilliard explains, makes all the difference. The standard in the industry is to plate jewelry with less than one micron of precious metal – not enough for Hilliard. “Thin plating will wear down very quickly. If it’s poor plating, it will start to chip. Our standard is that if it comes into contact with your skin, it is minimum two to three microns of 18K rose gold plating,” she states.
Hilliard’s collections are designed to be layered together with your favourite contemporary pieces or with family heirlooms. She finds inspiration in anything from architecture to safety pins, working with lines, curvature and organic shapes to create timeless designs. Stay tuned for her Fall ’16 collection, where she continues to expand what’s possible with jewelry, bringing her interpretation of Kit and Ace’s line into new forms.