In Store with Natalie Marie

— Expert Interview

In Store with Natalie Marie
In Store with Natalie Marie

One of our favourite discoveries to date, the exquisite creations of Natalie Marie emit a softly spoken yet powerful presence amongst the ‘new guard’ of fine jewellery designers. A collective of creatives, catering to a crowd in search of anything but the traditional. With a signature aesthetic spun from a superfine persuasion, her rings and necklaces are intended for layering or stacking, allowing for infinite possibilities and delicate combinations unique to each wearer. It’s an intriguing yet beautifully uncomplicated style of femininity, spilling with unexpected stones and settings. 

Until recently, the main collection was available online with custom pieces by private appointment, however with the exciting news of her own exquisitely intimate space just opened, the Natalie Marie experience has welcomingly expanded. One part working studio, one part dreamy, white washed gallery-like store, the energy is one of layered tranquility, just like the pieces themselves. Populated with brass accents, organic elements and a considered smattering of succulents and crystals, it feels at once an effortless extension of the jewels, and somewhere entirely conducive to designing your perfect piece. 

With bespoke rings now an integral part of Natalie’s oeuvre, the store and studio allow for a more personalised experience than ever before, surrounded by an irresistible selection of pieces to try on, inspiring and informing the direction of your own design. Never one to resist a layering tutorial, we admired an ombre of assorted eternity bands and a myriad of delicately mounted stones, all the while stealing glances at Natalie’s own unbelievable stack - a dozen delicate designs surrounding her own ceremonial ring.

Unrestrained by tradition, champagne diamonds, morganite and rutile quartz formed an integral part of establishing the Natalie Marie signature, with more unexpected stones to be revealed in collections to come. Crown rings, worn in singular or surrounding fashion, allow for an optional ‘halo’ of diamonds around magnificent single stone designs, while delicately encrusted bands offer the perfect excuse for adding to your personal collection, with each anniversary or significant moment.

Keen to celebrate this milestone opening with the designer herself, we popped in for a visit, losing ourselves in the designs and diving a little deeper in the world of Natalie Marie

What inspired you to begin your jewellery journey? 

Jewellery was quite a natural progression for me. I've always been a maker, ever since I was young. I’ve always been drawn to process based vocations, and been very hands on. I studied a fine arts degree, with jewellery and object design as my major from day one. It’s been a steady and continuous learning process since then. 

Your signature aesthetic is uniquely delicate. Can you trace any origins or inspiration towards the superfine, or was it an instinctual direction for you?

For me, it’s less about keeping things particularly delicate, and more about simplifying and refining.  My aesthetic is generally quite minimal. I think I have approached jewellery from a different angle to the traditional jeweller in that my tendency is to try and deconstruct and pull back the overall picture, so that specific elements can be emphasised.

Where do you begin the design process each season? What shapes and informs the mood of each collection? 

It’s all about process for me. I wasn’t trained as a designer, but more as a maker, so getting stuck in and working with materials is what really gets me excited. The design process for me involves a lot of experimentation and play.  The mood of the collection is an organic result of that, tied in of course with where I am at internally and where my inspiration is driving from. The newest work I am developing is based around natural, earthy stones, including labradorite, natural grey and salt and pepper diamonds, paired back with clean teardrop and oval forms. 

Do you create with muses in mind? Or particular women that you imagine wearing your pieces? 

Several of my key pieces are named after special women in my family, specifically my three grandmothers - Queenie, Annie & Rose. To me these women epitomise all that is feminine and wise. In this way they have become my muses.

Interview continues beneath the gallery

Tell us about the bespoke service you have introduced…how did it begin and how has it evolved? 

The commission side of my business started when an old friend approached me and asked if I could make her engagement ring. It was the first project of this scale that I had undertaken. This opened up a whole new area for me to grow into, in terms of production and having an understanding of my own practice. That was one of the key moments of progression that helped me gain confidence and expand my vision toward that side of my work.

Bespoke work takes up the majority of my time these days. The process for each bespoke piece is personal, involved and complex. No two pieces are the same, and neither are the clients. We often begin with either a face to face or online consultation, to establish a direction and understanding. From there, it’s a process of sourcing, inspiring, communicating, refining, and then finally - making. 

You sit with each of the brides (and brave grooms!) who come in search of a bespoke ring, and then create each of these pieces yourself. What do you love most about the intimacy and nuances of the bespoke process, versus designing for your main line?

It’s a true privilege to be involved in such precious moments in peoples lives, laced with anticipation and excitement. I take great pleasure in working through this process with my clients on quite an intimate basis. The level of relationship which is developed over the weeks and sometimes months of a bespoke project is vastly different to a normal online store experience. Developing these connections is an important part of this work for me, and is a great reward.

The biggest value for me in this process is witnessing and playing a part in each of these stories and knowing that the piece which is created ultimately becomes a part of that relationship, a precious token, an heirloom.

Who is the quintessential Natalie Marie woman? What does she seek?

I envisage a genuine, honest, strong willed woman, one steadfast in her taste and style with an eye for detail. One who is concerned primarily with seeking an experience, rather than an object. She wants to understand and experience the story behind her wares and feel a sense of attachment to her jewellery. She treasures sentimentality over monetary value, values thoughtfulness over expense and primarily, love over all of the rest. She's conscious, mindful and individual and wants to understand and feel confident about the sustainability and ethical nature of her investment.

And man? Your collection of accompanying groomsmen rings are the most perfect extension of your aesthetic.  Tell us a little about those…

I've created a capsule collection of mens rings to sit along side the bridal pieces. This was just a flow on effect of sitting with so many couples in the lead up to their weddings. The sense of the collection is that of the undone classic. Simple, clean shapes, pulled back and refreshed in a variety of finishes. 

One of the most exciting shifts we’re observing in the ‘new guard’ of fine jewellery designers is the move away from a traditionally cut, white diamond engagement ring. Alternative centres stones and settings form such an integral part of your signature aesthetic…what are some of your favourites to work with(& why?)

I think diamonds will always have their place as a classic, timeless choice for an engagement ring; but I do definitely feel that people aren’t tied to the idea of diamonds as a ‘necessity’ anymore and are pursuing alternative but equally as beautiful options.I believe our generation is full of couples who are in love and just want to celebrate that - and there has been such a strong move away from the traditional picture of what that needs to looks like. 

The expense of a diamond is limiting. By moving away from the diamond, it enables young couples to invest in something individual that reflects their personality and relationship. There seems to be an ever increasing appreciation for the handmade, bespoke product which has an element of story behind it. I personally love the moody earthy tones and idiosyncrasies of natural, included stones. Theres such a lot of personality and story laced in these imperfections. 

The new space is stunning. Combining your working studio space with a tranquil gallery like store frontage to house the collections, it has a beautiful energy, and resonates as quintessentially ‘Natalie Marie’. Tell us about how you chose each of the elements, and the kind of experience you wanted to share with your clients (through having a permanent space)?

I loved creating the space, and as I pieced it together I felt that I had somehow always known how it would look even before I had the opportunity or plans to make it a reality. I think thats because It’s a very personal expression for me, in terms of the aesthetic and mood. I have handpicked every element, selecting handcrafted furniture and wares to complement our brand ethos.

I wanted to create something that didn’t feel like a jewellery store, I wanted the space to be warm and welcoming, a space where I can sit with clients informally over a coffee and get to know them. Having our working space on site is key - it makes for such a cohesive and holistic experience. I wanted anyone coming into the space to get an authentic sense of what it is we do and what we are about. 

It serves as a destination, tucked into a particularly beautiful nook of Sydney Northerns Beaches. What do you love most about living and working here?

Having grown up in England, I have a deep appreciation for the beauty and the lifestyle this place has to offer. I feel very fortunate to now call this home. Aside from that, there is a real sense of community in this area particularly, which is of great value to me. Connecting with the people and the place in which we opened the space brings a sense of belonging and liberation - a strong and inspired place from which to create. I was originally anxious about having the showroom here, as its so far removed from the centre of the city, but clients always comment on what a treat it is to make the trip and enjoy the area.  

What are your other passions? Where would we find you on a typical weekend?

I’m a bit of a homebody, and in my free time (which is rare and precious), you will usually find me either at home or by the sea. A typical weekend consists half of work, and half of rest. Being so personally involved and hands-on in my work - it’s sometimes hard to balance the two. Sundays are a precious day consisting of time with friends, family and my husband; walks, yoga and the beach. 

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