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Trend Setting Designer Blazes A Trail
“I love what I do- making very feminine, fashion-forward jewellery that women- myself included- really want to wear.”
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jul 19 2008 12:42PM
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Reference: 2855  

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“I love what I do- making very feminine, fashion-forward jewellery that women- myself included- really want to wear.”

The Fifth Avenue sparks- Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale, what do they have in common? It’s no surprise that Penne Preville is present with all of them. Her collections have graced the displays of the best jewellery showrooms. They have adorned starts of the silver screen, right from Alicia Silverstone, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore, Nicole Kidman, Eva Longoria, and the list goes on. Even Jamie Foxx sported her creation, a pair of cufflinks, at an award ceremony. You can also see Marcia Cross on Desperate Housewives sport the Penny Preville long open scroll diamond earrings and a diamond cuff bracelet.

Designing in Her DNA : Penny’s association with jewellery began in her childhood. “I was influenced by my family’s association with art. Both my grandmother and mother were artists and I was surrounded with art from childhood,” says the designer. Her love for jewellery led her to designing pieces for her family and her friends. This hobby made her take up fine art and jewellery design in college and she went on to make a career out of it.

Designing Evergreens : For someone who doesn’t believe in making pieces that suit the current trends, Penny likes designing jewellery that can be worn year after year. “Trends are factors that I always educate myself about on a regular basis, but I try not to let these trends greatly influence my designs. I would like to think of myself as a ‘trend setter’ in jewellery design and always want to retain the continuity of my design philosophy. As I’ve mentioned before, I view my designs as ‘timeless’, and would like to think that my creations are worn year after year,” says Penny. Trends come and go, and are repeated throughout history. It’s all an ongoing process, but Penny’s designs can be called evergreen.

Maintaining Continuity : As a jewellery designer, Penny has always remained true to her style expression. “Continuity is extremely important to me and has remained constant through my career, and though I am always aware of changing fashion and a woman’s varied lifestyles, I try to integrate these influences into my design form. In many cases, my earliest designs ‘connect’ with my current styles,” explains Penny. Her journey has been varied as every day brings new experiences, but her design focus has been an ‘unbroken’ line.

Design –More Important Than Material : Penny considers design of prime importance over material; she says design can be expressed successfully in any material. Most times, the materials dictates the price point and the marketplace that you are addressing, but from a purist’s standpoint (not a business perspective), it’s all about the design, she explains. Sometimes, she sees the material as a painter might see a canvas.

Inspiration From The Unusual : “Though country, culture, and my beliefs might have some ‘deep rooted’ influences, my inspirations are based more on other criteria. In fact, I enjoy looking to other countries and their cultures for my input and always sketch while travelling abroad,” says Penny. She prefers not to be limited by anything and appreciates the beauty in other cultures, along with her own. For instance, she has designed charms and amulets, influenced by the ‘beliefs’ of other cultures.

Indian Jewellery Impressive : She is also interested in the history of design in all countries. “I’ve studied the history of jewellery and design in Europe, Russia, Asia and America. I’ve certainly studied and have been influenced by Indian jewellery design, especially during the ‘Raj’ period. The emphasis on detailing and the incredible blend of materials are factors that I try to express in all of my designs, says Penny explaining about sources of her inspiration.

Couple of Other Inspirations : She draws inspiration from two other themes. One is the history of worldwide art in all forms, including architecture, clothing and fabrics, and ancient adornments. “I study the oldest forms of expression through mid 20th century design, look to the detailing and techniques during that time period, and then use my inspirations with that knowledge as a foundation,” explains Penny. The second major inspiration for her is a woman’s lifestyle, “As I am woman who knows the love and satisfaction of putting on jewellery that makes me feel wonderful, daytime, nighttime, and for special occasions. I create jewellery to fill a woman’s needs. I also look to create ‘timeless’ pieces for women to enjoy and, perhaps, hand down to their daughters…modern heirlooms,” she adds.

Designing to Delight : Diamonds are at the heart of Penny’s designs. She primarily works with 18 kt. gold in white, green and rose color. She also works in platinum, but doesn’t feel limited and would work in other metals as well. “My jewellery is mostly diamond intensive, and I am known for designs utilizing quantities of smaller diamonds and diamond accents. Yet, I also use larger diamonds in a variety of shapes, mostly in my bridal designs. In addition, I use all types of colorstones, from aqua to all colors of sapphires and tourmalines. I also enjoy working pearls into many of my designs, using natural color, South Sea and Tahitian pearls,” says Penny talking about her designs.

Timeless Jewellery : Penny tries to integrate the elements of designs that are customer based as well as concept based. “As a successful designer I integrate those two aspects. My challenge is to try to stay ‘ahead of the curve’ by introducing new looks and concepts. At the same time, I want to design jewellery that is ‘timeless’, fashionable, and wearable so I always have my customers in mind through the entire design process,” highlights Penny.

Her creativity is enhanced when she designs special custom or commissioned pieces. She says that the designer’s challenge is creating a piece that reflects her design style, but if it is to be worn, it also must satisfy the customer’s needs and tastes as well. “I enjoy meeting and working with people and thrive on sharing my design process with them in order to ultimately present them a piece that will be cherished and meaningful,” she adds.

Success Both Ways : Penny works with a range of customers, both in the U.S. and worldwide. Her designs are appealing to all age groups of women and her best selling price points are from US$2,000 to US$6,000, retail. The price range of her collections is from US$1,000 to US$50,000, retail. Though customer tastes are not universal, and while one person is attracted to a special design, another might consider the ‘functionality’ a priority, Penny’s designs try to integrate both. “In any case, I try taking both into consideration while designing, and as a designer, try not to sacrifice one for the other. What I design first has to satisfy me and then if it is appealing to others, I’ve been successful!” exclaims Penny.

The evidence of Penny’s success lies in a number of awards and honors she has bagged through the years. Her flare for design and enterprising spirit won her the JA’s Young Designer Of The Year award in 1978. In 1995 Penny received the Blenheim award for continued excellence in design. Penny was chosen one of the leading American jewellery designers by the World Gold Council and asked to contribute for its the 1996-97 International Gold Trends Book. She has won a number of other awards and CNN interviewed her on its entrepreneurs show.

My Best ? Well, Wait & Watch : Penny’s career spans decades and so we ask her if there is any piece she considers her best designed piece. “There is no one piece that is the ‘best creation so far’. I’ve created thousands of designs in varieties of collections and I always approach my new efforts with the thought that ‘this is going to be my best effort yet’. Yet, I will admit, that many of my favorite designs are the ones I wear myself on a regular basis, just like my customers,” she says. According to Penny one of the most important elements in jewellery designing, as well as any type of designing, is focus. There is a tremendous amount of input that your brain is trying to filter and process while designing and keeping your focus on the original concept or idea is critical. She is known for designing pieces with intricate detailing, yet she tries to keep the detailing in perspective with the whole piece and not let the subtle, yet important, detailing ‘dominate’ the piece as a whole. That is an exercise in keeping focus.

Study of Prime Importance : She gives prime importance to study of the art. She advises the young aspiring designers, “Study, study, study and then create your own style. Design is repetitious and very rarely unique, but your interpretations and influences, based on your own life’s history is what are going to make your designs special. Hopefully, your creations will appeal to others, but always stay true to your design personality, forever, if possible. It’s what separates you from everybody else.”

India Fantastic ! Penny has a relation with India since she has worked with Indian suppliers and manufacturers. “India is a fantastic country comprising all types of people with a range of tastes. Traditionally, jewellery that has appealed to India is higher karat, with price points ‘based on weight’. But, today, design in clothing, accessories, house wares, and certainly jewellery have become as important in India as in the rest of the world. Being ‘stylish’ is a worldwide concept and the emerging Indian customer base, with its own ‘lifestyle’ needs, is one of the areas of great potential growth and realization,” says Penny. Though she has never sold in the Indian marketplace before, she feels confident that her jewellery designs would be well received in India. “I look forward to the opportunity,” she concludes.

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