We started out with the idea of a diamond tennis bracelet, but then I said no, we can do something better than that,” says Jessica McCormack of the private commission that was the starting point of her latest collection, Cable Car. Those who are familiar with the New Zealand-born, Mayfair-based designer’s work won’t be surprised: renowned as the cool girl’s diamond jeweller, a classic line bracelet isn’t really her style.
Instead, she tasked her workshop with finding a novel way to make the client’s significant investment (30 carats of diamonds in total) work as hard as possible for the lucky wearer, his wife.
The resulting necklace sees 15 two-carat diamonds glide like mountain gondolas along a rope of handwoven gold, which can be worn long or short, fastened or undone, as a scarf, sautoir, lariat or choker, or wrapped the wrist as a bracelet, with the diamonds positioned at any point.
“It was a big purchase, so we wanted to make sure it was as versatile as possible,” says McCormack, for whom the commission was an opportunity to elevate her designs – not to mention her goldsmiths’ skills. Her team, whose workshop is in the basement of her Carlos Place townhouse, developed a spring mechanism which allows the diamonds to slide and lock in place.
McCormack approached a German goldsmith to create the industrial-chic, 18-karat gold chain. “It’s unlike any chain I’ve used before – it’s quite Germanic in its very precise, continuous, repetitive make,” she says. “Its an antique-style, foxtail chain so it has that touch of the old which I love.”
Combined with McCormack’s signature Georgian cut-down setting, which sees old-cut diamonds set in blackened gold, it adds a vintage feel to a piece of jewellery that has a very modern ethos at its core.
“It’s important to think about a woman’s lifestyle when you’re designing jewellery for her to wear, and I wanted something that could work as well for a black-tie event as with jeans and a t-shirt,” says McCormack. “I like that the movement and the mechanics give her control when she’s styling it.”
This relaxed approach to luxury is typical of McCormack’s designs, and the rest of the Cable Car collection maintains that air. A shorter length of gold is set with three diamonds and can be worn as a shorter necklace or bracelet, while another features various shapes of diamonds, all set in that antique-style cut-down setting. A pair of earrings see a diamond zip up and down a chain which attaches behind a second diamond stud.
It’s an almost startlingly insouciant way to wear some serious stones: in one showstopping necklace, a five-carat marquise floats along its chain, reminiscent of an awe-inspiring Alpine télécabine. Better than a diamond tennis bracelet, indeed.