The secret behind innovative jewellery design

Renowned Melbourne-based illustrator Kelly Thompson and iconic New Zealand jewellery house Walker & Hall have joined forces to release not one, but two, new jewellery collections. Remix sat down with Kelly to learn about the journey of bringing her sketches to life.


Kelly, tell us about collection #70. How would you describe the pieces and what was the inspiration behind it?

I live in the suburbs in Melbourne and there is this really amazing Art Deco building near my house. It has gold doors, then above the doors it has these metal curved design motifs. I always walk past it and admire it. That inspired me to do the curves. I was also looking at vintage wallpaper; the retro, brown, red, kind of rusty coloured wallpaper, with graphic ‘70s shapes. I started with those as inspiration too, then started sketching and it all rolled on from there.


Then how is collection #20 different?

Collection #20 has the amazing black diamonds in it, which I love. I wanted that collection to include pieces you would pass on as family heirlooms. I think #70 is a bit more graphic and bold, almost like costume jewellery, but the #20 range is more refined and a bit more delicate.


Why was Walker & Hall the perfect partner for you?

They chose me! It was funny timing, because last year before Christmas, I started to look into 3D printing jewellery. Then, serendipitously I got an email asking if I wanted to collaborate with them. It was meant to be. I didn’t know much about the process involved in making jewellery, so it was great to join forces with people who have such a rich history and knowledge of it.


Talk us through the creative process behind the two collections.

To be honest, I kind of expected this to result in a few jewellery pieces designed to sell really well, like hoop earrings, but that wasn’t the case at all. Walker & Hall were totally on board with my creative vision and what I wanted to do, rallying behind me on the designs and aesthetic. They didn’t have any restrictions or prerequisites, except that they wanted to do two collections. There was probably about four or five rounds of me sending sketch ideas and explaining them in my very limited jewellery vocabulary. The team wanted me to explain every single idea I had in my head, which was a huge challenge, but they brought the designs to life in a way I never thought was possible.

Tell us more about the magnificent diamond ring in the collection.

That came together a little later on. Walker & Hall had this amazing yellow six carat diamond. It’s the most beautiful soft toned yellow and I felt a lot of pressure to make something amazing for it. It was the hardest piece for me because I was intimidated by the diamond. We did all the other pieces first and then worked with the circular ring shape in collection #70 to develop it further.


What makes jewellery so special?

Jewellery pulls an outfit together and finishes everything off. You know when you put on a nice ring and look at your hand, you feel transformed into something special. I love the conversations and stories people tell around jewellery as well.


What do you think you bring to the jewellery collection as an artist and illustrator that is unique?

I think the biggest benefit was my love and passion for jewellery, but then my lack of technical knowledge, because it meant I was unrestricted in the creative process. We didn’t play by the rules, which made the designs much more daring and unique.


Can we expect to see more jewellery collaborations from you?

I hope so. The Walker & Hall team is super encouraging, so we’ll see. Now that I’ve been through the process and have a good understanding of mechanics and metals and shapes, there is so much more I want to do. I’m always sketching!