Lorraine West: Artisanry Adorned
Each of Lorraine West’s pieces reflect her passion and love for the art of jewelry design. From the combination of different precious metals to the use of abstract designs, each aspect plays a role in telling a story: one of Lorraine’s Caribbean roots, her family’s craftsmanship background, the passion and joy the jewelry holds to the designer and wearer, all to be passed down from generation to generation. Read our exclusive interview to explore what drives designer, Lorraine West, to continue to innovate the jewelry industry and how her designs come to fruition.
You are a self-taught designer. When did you first realize your talent for designing jewelry?
I realized I had a talent for designing upon the creation of my first pieces of wire wrapped rings, back in 1997.
Hand work and artisanry runs through your family. Your mother works as a baker, and your father is a carpenter. How did their careers in craftsmanship impact you finding your own way as an artist?
I was influenced by my parents’ will power to be creatives for a living, and how they created beauty around us through lifestyle and home design. They worked outside jobs and worked for themselves. I saw them juggle a lot with six children to provide for us. They were brilliant, perfectionists at their respective crafts and also self taught. The creative environment as a child was the foundation of my future success as a professional artist.
You take great pride in your Caribbean roots. How does the Caribbean influence your designs and everyday style?
Growing up in America with my Caribbean parents was like living a double life. My parents had certain traditions and ways of thinking that differed from the average American culture thought process. My Mom would often tell us, “Eat little and live long. Make it stretch. Waste not want not.” My Mom to this day says to us, “Buy the best so you don’t have to keep buying.” When I design, I think about the investment the client is making in my designs, the daily wear ability of the pieces, timelessness, high quality and beauty. Pieces you can count on over a lifetime and beyond. That sensibility was ingrained in me since childhood, and stays with me when designing and running my business. It is at the core of my being to deliver the best to my clients.
Is there any piece you have created, which you feel demonstrates the spirit behind your inspiration, or which is a favorite? Please tell us the story behind it.
My favorite design is the Open Heart Ring. It’s a unique take on the classic heart motif, and was inspired by drawing an open heart on handwritten thank you cards to clients and loved ones. The Open Heart Ring is one of our best sellers and serves as a reminder to love yourself first, so your cup is full to love others around you from an abundant place.
You describe yourself as a wife, a mother, and an artisan. How does being a wife and a mother impact your artistry and designs today?
My greatest gift in life is having and experiencing the love and support from my beautiful family. They inspire me daily to continue to pursue my dreams and goals. I always want to make them proud.
Your pieces are handmade and made to order. Why did you choose this model of business?
I am an artist first, so I approach my production as any artist would. Each piece is designed and handcrafted with care and of the highest quality. Our team at the moment is small, but mighty. We focus on quality over quantity. The demand is high and clients are willing to patiently wait to experience our designs.
Your jewelry is made from brass, copper, precious gemstones, and metals including gold, platinum, and sterling silver. Is there a particular material that you prefer to work with? Why the artistic choice to mix so many materials?
I love the look of mixed metals. As a child I enjoyed browsing the windows of fine jewelry stores and would notice the use of mix metals and their color contrast. When it came time for me to design my own jewelry, I was inspired to incorporate pieces with mixed metals. I enjoy working with all metals ,but there’s nothing like working with high carat yellow and rose gold. It’s smooth like butter when working with it at the bench.
You express a great passion for pairing and manipulating precious metals. Could you further explain your process of designing jewelry?
My approach to design and execution of jewelry varies depending on the design. There are some moments when ideas are born at the bench directly playing with raw metal, some pieces require a pattern when it’s large scale, geometric pieces or hand written letters to create a nameplate, the use of hand carved wax to cast pieces is utilized, as well as CAD technology to aid in the production of a piece. Hand sketching and hand fabrication at the bench is at the core of manifesting our designs.
What does jewelry design mean to you? How do you want someone to feel when they are wearing one of your pieces?
Jewelry design is special. It’s where fashion, style, and storytelling can merge in the most perfect ways. A designer gets to witness the joy of people wearing their designs to express the client, as well as the wearer’s personal narrative, which ignites the power the client, and what the wearer wants to exclude. Jewelry is an art meant to be worn and collected in this life, and thereafter to be passed down to loved ones to enjoy for generations to come.
For the Open Heart collection, what made you decide to dedicate this collection towards female empowerment?
The heart represents the center of our emotions. The more we can regulate our emotions, be accountable and center it in love, humanity will progress for the better. The Open Heart Collection can serve as a reminder of that sentiment.
You have worked with personalities such as Beyonce and Zendaya, both very well-known and influential women. When you think about an ideal Lorraine West client, what are some characteristics of the person you envision? Which celebrity would you love to see wearing your pieces next?
The ideal Lorraine West client is vulnerable, fashionable, a goal getter, exuding grace in all they do. They armor themselves with beauty, love and healing energy and inspire others to tap into their inner power. We would love to have Rihanna in our pieces next!
How would you describe your brand’s personality and your personal mantra?
Lorraine West Jewelry creates strikingly elegant pieces that allow clients to connect to their own beauty and power.
To keep up with Lorraine West’s designing journey and future collections, visit http://lorrainewestjewelry.com/ and follow @lorrainewestjewelry on Instagram