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Java Ore: Rosalie McMillan Interview

Tuesday 25 August 2015

 I often find myself deeply curious when I conduct an interview or read about jewellery designers previous occupation before their pursuit in their true passion of jewellery design. It provides a personal insight into their transitional period and how their past correlate with their present and most certainly, their future. 

London based jewellery designer Rosalie McMillan is one of many extraordinarily talented individuals with transferable skills used to their advantages. Trained as a Psychologist, her philosophy into the purpose of adornment is to place greater emphasis on how jewellery effects the mind and body in a positive manner, as opposed to merely aesthetics, which can sometimes be misleading, placing great importance in connecting her jewellery with the wearer. 

Influenced by geometric pattern and nature she finds in spoilt abundance, Rosalie creates luxury adornment with cutting edge sophistication and a definitive lines. Her newest collection Java Ore specifically uses material derived from coffee grounds to reinvent the way jewellery are created, inspired by the properties and formation to uncover their true beauty and transform them into wearable gems. 

Here I speak to Rosalie in more depth about her eponymous brand, unlimited inspirations and her newest collection. 

What inspired you to become a jewellery designer? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to do?
I travelled around India in my late teens and early 20s, and fell in love with the coloured stones out there, returning home with boxes of semi precious stones to play around with.  I took up a few part time courses in jewellery making soon after and was blown away by the different techniques and possibilities of working with metal. My jewellery projects captivated me so much that I recall sleepless nights of new ideas firing around my brain; it was probably then that I realised I should become a jeweller!  It still took a few years after that to take the plunge and make my jewellery a profession as well as a hobby.

    Your jewellery is inspired by geometry and nature, what is your personal story regarding these themes and the relationship between the two?

There is amazing geometry in nature!  My father once bought me a book illustrating the extraordinary patterns and structure in the natural world, from the complex arrangement of petals to the formation of snowflakes and lightning.   Geometry in nature inspires my jewellery, and at the moment I am particularly interested in the striking formations of natural rocks like geodes. 

     What is the inspiration behind your new collection Java Ore?

The Java Ore collection was inspired by coffee. I have used a material that I have developed with my partner and founder of Re-worked, Adam Fairweather, that is derived from waste coffee grounds collected from London. This material, called Çurface, is over 70% coffee, transformed into a remarkably beautiful durable material with a slightly mottled patina. The collection combines Çurface with recycled or fairtrade silver and gold in designs influenced by shapes of coffee grounds.   I find the provenance of my jewellery very important, with each piece having its own story tell.

Part of my motivation behind this collection is also to question our relationship with materials and the value that we attach to them. I’ve got about 30 pieces in the collection at the moment, and will soon be adding a few more when I introduce some recycled broken gems into the coffee Çurface within the next couple of months.

    Describe the creative and technical stages of making your jewellery pieces. What is the hardest and most enjoyable part of the process?

There is a specialized process we go through to make the coffee Çurface material and it requires both heat and pressure to achieve.  Once we have made the material, I then hand cut it into the pieces which is a labour of love. It’s a wonderful material to work with and I’ve really enjoyed getting to understand the material and how to maximize its potential.   Some of my pieces are cast, and others are hand fabricated from sheet and wire; for me it’s like alchemy seeing the transformation of the materials into their final designs.

    What is your favourite jewellery piece/s at the moment from your collection. What do you wear all the time?

I feel naked without my silver stacking rings and I’ve just made the same rings in 9 and 18ct yellow, red and white gold which I haven’t taken off since putting them on; I love the playfulness of the rings together and the different patterns they make as you wear them throughout the day.

     You are trained as a Psychologist. How does this help you as a jewellery designer?

People have adorned themselves across cultures and throughout history, and have a real emotional connection to the jewellery they wear. I’m really interested in the idea of wearing jewellery to bring us confidence to make the most of the opportunities that come our way.   Many of the materials I work with have been transformed beyond recognition and, by association, I would like to encourage others to discover and unleash their own potential, and seek the best opportunities in their lives.   

    Social media is still relatively a new tool to promote brand awareness in the jewellery industry. How do you utilise this platform to your advantage? What is your favourite platform?

I’m a fairly late convert to social media but, since joining, I have been able to connect with a diverse set of like-minded individuals around the world. I had an addiction to the beautiful imagery on Pinterest when I first discovered it, but now spend a lot of time on instagram, my new favourite platform to engage with.

     Describe the person wearing your collection.

Men and women with a strong sense of design, a minimalist aesthetic, and an interest in innovation. They care about where their belongings come from, have a conscience and a considered eye for detail.

 Is there a jewellery designer or influential public figure you look up to the most?

Wendy Ramshaw, one of the most inspirational jewellery designers of all time. She has been extraordinarily creative in the materials and techniques she has used in her work and has really stretched the boundaries of form.  As a site specific artist, she works beautifully on the small scale as well as a large scale and has even designed some large gates in Hyde Park, London.

    If there is a brand or a person you could collaborate a new collection with who would it be and why?

There are so many options! I’d love to collaborate with a leather brand to make matching jewellery for shoes and bags and also to integrate some designs into the leather accessories. I’d be interested in working with with a great fashion designer achieving both sustainability and cutting edge design; Ada Zanditon springs to mind. Equally I’d love to find an opportunity to work with people in the developing world to create beautiful luxury jewellery from local or waste materials.

 5 words to describe your jewellery.

Striking, playful, angular, handcrafted with integrity.

 Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Well established internationally, pushing boundaries in design, and supported by a small cooperative of people making jewellery with me.

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