The jewellery baby
Claire Aristides speaks to Neos Kosmos about her success as a jewellery designer and the gift of motherhood
We all know that in most cases, marrying a Greek means you will be adorned with many jewels from family on your special occasions. Claire Aristides would probably never have guessed in her 20s that she would end up being a jewellery designer and married to a Greek Cypriot, but that is the unpredictable hand that life deals us, and we are all so glad that it happened and she has gifted the world with her gorgeous jewellery designs.
Born and raised in Australia, Claire studied psychology and then went on to work in web development. Her career took her to work in London on a wild, young and free whim, where she worked in IT and scribbled jewellery designs in her spare time for fun. She describes the crossover as a logical one, as web developing involves "lateral thinking and problem solving" so her creative juices were bursting to come out as a result.
While in Australia visiting friends, she was set up with a handsome Cypriot man who happened to be living in the same neighbourhood as her back in north London. The fairytale began there. They dated, lived together and then moved back home to Australia to be married. I asked if she had ribbons of money pinned to her dress and she admitted to having missed out on that part as it was a small wedding with close family and friends.
Claire Aristides in Mykonos.
It was in her sixth month of gestation with her son Enzo that Claire announced to her husband Mike that a baby of a different kind was due to arrive in the next month. That baby was her jewellery baby, a line of cocktail rings she had been secretly working on and keeping herself busy with. The launch was at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney and that night, Claire Aristides jewellery was born.
Since then Claire has dropped her first name from the label as she confesses most people find saying Aristides challenging enough, therefore a shorter branding just made sense. I laugh to think what she would do if she had inherited the name of my childhood Greek teacher Mr Hatzipapadimitrakopoulos.
Aristides Fine Jewels can only be described as a collection with a modern take on some of the classics. Claire's fresh approach to fine jewellery encapsulates wearability, simplicity and a modern aesthetic, making it easy to see why she has been so successful in just a few years.
Eighteen months ago Claire also launched Bambino diamonds, which includes baby's first diamond bracelets, earrings and initials. As a long-time fan of Claire's on Instagram, I was completely smitten with the Bambino diamonds collection when it first launched and it has become my go-to gift whenever invited to christenings. The bracelets are divine and look irresistible on chubby little wrists.
I sat down and had a chat with Claire about her life, love, career, and the new baby that she has on the way. Last time she was pregnant she developed a jewellery line; I can't wait to see what this pregnancy brings.
As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration?
Travel, weekends away and time out. Creativity comes for me when I'm relaxed and not trying to make something take shape. So yes, travel is still one of the most important means of inspiration for me. You switch off from the day-to-day grind and let your creative side just be and absorb yourself in your surroundings. That's when amazing things happen. We have just come back from a trip to Europe − London and Mykonos − and I've come up with all those new ideas and designs. I took notes and did rough drawings while I was away and now it's about bringing all this to life.
The design elements that appeal to me are the different coloured gemstones and the gold they are set with, also shapes and cuts of stones. Take for example Aura Gemstone Ring − rich vibrant citrine set in rose gold; perfection!
I also love detailed delicate patterns like the ones in the Firenze Petite, Diamond Deco and Hexagon rings.
What drew you to jewellery, and more specifically, fine jewellery with diamonds and gemstones?
I create what I love − jewellery. My ethos has been to create modern-day classics, as I grew up with somewhat of a collector mother with a jewellery box full of necklaces, pearls and cocktail rings from Greece, Macau, Singapore, Spain; wherever she travelled with my father. She always wore her jewels, so for me saving jewellery for that special occasion doesn't make sense.
What type of woman do you envisage wearing your pieces?
I create wearable, everyday fine jewellery. I love to layer and I'm a big fan of mixing and matching different golds, stacking gemstones with diamonds. To me it's all about having fun and telling your story with your jewellery. I therefore see the woman wearing my jewellery as quite individual, of no particular age group; she wants something unique and to be able to create her own style.
Are there any style icons that inspire you?
I think certain women through time are iconic because they have found their personal style and they know what suits them best and they don't deviate. They don't try and be all things to everyone. I'm a big fan of '70s stars like Lauren Hutton, Faye Dunaway and Wonder Woman.
Do you have a favourite piece?
My engagement ring. I sourced the diamond from an antique diamond dealer outside of London − so it's a very old cut of diamond, then I designed the new platinum setting. I love it.
What is next for your brand? Has this pregnancy inspired anything new you want to share with us?
To keep creating jewels people love. We recently launched @AristidesBridal so that is very exciting. Pregnancy has definitely made me more focused, more confident and calmer. I have three brands and that's enough for now, but I'm excited to keep growing these beautiful babies that I love so much.
To find out more about Claire Aristides and her jewellery go to www.aristidesfinejewels.com or follow @aristidesfinejewels on Instagram.
* Zoe George (nee Velonis) is the The Subtle Mummy www.thesubtlemummy.com and www.facebook.com/thesubtlemummy
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