Jewelry Designer Philippa Roberts


Have you ever felt that you knew someone through the things they make? Phillipa makes a line of jewelry that is all clean lines, modern and simple. I love it because it speaks to me of refinement. I can tell that she made some choices to edit and to pare down her design to the essentials. I think that is brilliant because with jewelry and adornment the wearer is part of the equation and that takes a certain skill to balance. Phillipa has that talent all sewn up.

Her jewelry can be worn by anyone: people of all ages adore it for myriad reasons. “I can sleep in these earrings!” “I can wear this jewelry anywhere.” “Perfect gift for my mother, my sister AND my daughter!” Or my favorite is - “I’m hooked, must have.”

Philippa herself is stylish, warm and friendly. Unafraid to guide us to the best sellers or point out what looks best together. I am grateful for the way she had taken my daughter, Ava under her wing, advising her on buying for a retail store. She has a great one herself on Piedmont Avenue. I remember the first time that I saw Philippa as a buyer and not a seller at a trade show. She had flown to Atlanta to shop for her store and was gracious to share the new things she found. She has been very supportive of our retail stores- all 3 of them doing trunk shows at the Cooper St. Santa Cruz store and Santana Row in San Jose. We chose Philippa Roberts to kick off our Jewelry Saturdays this fall, with discounts, free gift with purchase and refreshments. Come to our Watsonville store Saturday, October 10 and see the new arrivals.

Here is my original interview with Philippa before she did a trunk show with us on Copper St. in Santa Cruz.

Annie Morhauser:  (A.M.) What is your strongest influence?

Philippa Roberts: (P.R.) I like to think that my strongest influence is a woman's need for simple, clean, classic jewelry. I know how crazy and busy our lives are, I want jewelry to be uncomplicated and easy to wear. My work is not something that goes with a specific outfit or at a specific time. It can be worn day or night; you can even wear the same piece every day, which many women do. 

A.M.:  Where do you get your inspiration?

P.R.: My pieces come one of two ways. One way is I see a shape out in the world or in print (i.e. I saw some bubbles in a picture of a soap bottle and I loved the way they looked, so I will turn that image of the bubbles into silver and then into a piece of jewelry). I often come up with a bunch of new shapes before I have any collection in mind.

Then I shop the gem shows and get inspired by the stones I see. So, I buy what I think is beautiful then I come back to the studio and create a piece to go with the stones. Often this means I’ll have a mold made of the stone or I’ll put multiple stones together for a piece.

A.M.: Do have a whole, complete collection in mind when you design new work or does one flow from the other?

P.R.: One definitely flows from the other; it always surprises me how it all comes together in the end.

A.M.: Do you draw them out or make samples out of your head, at the bench?

P.R.: I make them straight into silver at the bench, and then carve them more on the grinding wheel. Everything has an organic feel because nothing is measured or planned.

A.M.: Tell me about your upbringing in a jewelry making family...

P.R.: My Great-Grandfather came to South Africa from Scotland; he started a fine jewelry business in Johannesburg. My Grandfather took the company over, then my uncle, and now my four cousins run it. They have five or six stores in South Africa and cater to the rich and famous! I know the Queen and Tina Turner have pieces :)

So, they are the finest of fine jewelers and I actually never was around the stores or the studios too much. It wasn't until I was in my senior year in college that I really realized the connection. I had fallen into Metal Arts completely by accident when I could not get the ceramics class I wanted. I needed a 3D requirement, so I took the metal class and immediately fell in love with working with metal. It was an instant attraction. When I was presenting my final projects it all made sense that this is what is in my blood. I love having that connection to my family back in South Africa, especially my Grandfather who passed away when I was a little girl.

A.M.: Thank you Philippa.

We can’t wait to see what she comes with next.

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