5 Mins With: Jessica de Lotz, jeweller


The acclaimed jeweller has opened up a characterful workspace and shop next to SK Vintage on Fortess Road



'I seemed to flourish in my arts-based subjects and, being quite shy, that gave me a voice.'
‘I seemed to flourish in my arts-based subjects and, being quite shy, that gave me a voice.’ Photo: JDL
How did you get into jewellery?
It all stemmed from my early teens when my best friend and I would make slightly hideous beaded jewellery and then sell it outside our cottage in Broadstairs to punters walking down to the beach. We even got our first stockist there, but the owner went bust and took all our stock and sales. Too young to understand, we giggled and carried on making.

Where did you grow up?
I went to school in Camden and grew up in Belsize Park, home to my father’s antiquarian book collection, which influenced my appreciation of antiques, and the life and stories behind them. After moving to Primrose Hill, my husband Nathan and I found our flat in Tufnell Park. The area is green and leafy: although a stone’s throw from manic Holloway Road, it manages to feel quiet and secluded.

What did you study?
I seemed to flourish in all my art-based subjects and being quite shy, that gave me a bit more of a voice. I eventually decided to follow the footsteps of three of my four siblings to art school, but within three months decided to specialise in jewellery. I loved how you could create something so small and intricate but full of life and meaning. I graduated from Central St Martin’s in 2008, and launched my business in 2009.

Counter area, with workshop just through the alcove. Photo: JDL
Counter area, with workshop just through the alcove. Photo: JDL
Inside the shop. Photo: JDL
Quirky: inside the shop. Photo: JDL
And why Fortess Road?
When I heard that the building that housed my workshop in Clerkenwell was closing down, I was ready to take on a new challenge. Kentish Town is also close to Farringdon so I can nip back to Hatton Garden for supplies, and deliver my plating, casting and engraving.

Vintage blinking dolly ring. Photo: JDL
Vintage blinking dolly ring. Photo: JDL
The pieces are really beautiful.
A lot of my inspiration comes from collecting and visiting flea markets, antique fairs like Spitalfields, where I source most of my inspiration and small display items. I re-interpret my findings, be it old dusty letters, sepia photographs or random curios. My jewellery designs are a marriage of old and new, reflected in the shop interior, designed by another local, Cat Dal: there’s an Edwardian wooden cabinet, 1930s optometrist enamel glasses, clean white walls and polished gold brass.

Give us an example of how you work?
My zodiac collection As Above, So Below, a collaboration with tarot reader Louise Androlia, came about as a result of something I picked up years before. It was a 1940s sepia photograph of a pin-up clown girl, who I knew would come to have a meaning at some point. Louise and I named her ‘Celeste’ and she became our muse for the collection. The original picture of her hangs behind my main cabinet at the shop.

What else do you sell?
Chic stationary from Studio Sarah, who stocks boutiques worldwide, and who I grew up with. Plus massage candles and love oil from Koibito: like jewellery, they are all things make you look good and smell delicious.

Original signage still in evidence. Photo: JDL
Original signage still in evidence. Photo: JDL
The shop sold pianos before?
Yes. In the past Kentish Town was the ‘go to’ for pianos and myself and neighbour Sarah Khan (SK) Vintage beside me was a double shop to display them, all of which were made downstairs. It seemed so in keeping with what I do to retain the history of the building by breathing new life into the original signage and combining it with my own.

Do you have any tips to offer readers when they’re choosing items?
The advantage of coming direct to the shop is that we can make your pieces as 100% bespoke. My workshop is located in the back so you can even see how we assemble and hand finish everything.

In the past my work has been described as being ‘heirlooms of the future’ and I think that really encapsulates how it should be purchased. It’s not a quick flash purchase but more something I hope you will treasure, wear often and become part of your life journey.

Anything else we should know?
My next launch is a collaboration with a sunglasses chain company called Frame Chain – just in time for when the sun comes out.

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Jessica De Lotz is open daily 1030-630 (closed Monday) at 49 Fortess Road NW5. Follow her on @JdLJewellery

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