- Cathy Waterman
“Nature still moves me to tears and influences every moment of every day, not simply my jewels. History is one of my greatest influence as well. I studied Ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, Ancient Near Eastern and Early Church History at University and you can see it in my work, particularly in the early years."
THE CALIFORNIAN DESIGNER HAS BEEN CREATING JEWELS IN HER SANTA MONICA STUDIO FOR ABOUT 25 YEARS AND HAS NOW BECOME A REFERENCE IN THE JEWELRY WORLD. "ETHERAL, FEMININE AND LYRICAL" IS HOW CATHY DESCRIBED HER CREATIONS IN AN INTERVIEW SHE GAVE TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES. HER LATEST PIECES ARE TRUE TO HER WORDS.
1. First of all, could you introduce yourself to our new clients who are not completely familiar with your work?
I was born and raised in California where there are few rules and many rulebreakers. I'm trained as a lawyer, though I never practiced, and am happy not to have formal jewelry training so that I could invent it as I went. I was fortunate to have the names of a few fine jewelers in Beverly Hills who were excellent at their craft. This meant that as I began drawing jewels and choosing stones, I could make what I dreamed of. I have not stopped drawing to this day! I was supposed to be the intellectual sister but I grew up to be the artistic one. Doing the right thing has always been important to me. I have been sourcing recycled metals and using only ethically sourced stones from the start. By then, that wasn't the name for it, it was more "why does she need to know where these come from?". My father in law was a diamond dealer in Beverly Hills and he helped me find the resources I needed. Before he died, I asked him a bunch of questions about who, what and where and he pulled through.
2. Since when have you been attracted to jewelry and when did you decide to start your own brand?
I visited Paris when I was 13 with my family and bought my first piece of jewelry, a pendant on a chain that depicted a young boy and a girl kissing. It appealed to the romantic in me. Before that, I rode horses and went barefoot and couldn't be bothered with jewels. When I turned 30 I became interested in personal adornment in a new way and began to look for jewels. For my 30th birthday, my husband bought me in Paris a pair of gold tassel earrings and these replaced the ubiquitous hoops I'd been wearing for a decade. On a whim I began drawing and opened a well of images that must have been lying dormant in my brain for centuries. Medieval images of crenalated castles with walls covered in climbing leaves, swords and shields. People loved them and it was clear that something was afoot so I made a collection and went to New York with it and the first store that I saw, Barneys New York, bought the entire collection.
3. What are your greatest influences in jewelry and design in general? Have they changed over time?
Nature still moves me to tears and influences every moment of every day, not simply my jewels. History is one of my greatest influence as well. I studied Ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, Ancient Near Eastern and Early Church History at University and you can see it in my work, particularly in the early years. It sounds funny when I write this down but I am also inspired by what I haven't seen but only imagine I'm seeing. The most concrete example of this is when I think I see a pattern or an object but on closer observation, realize that the one I saw only in my mind was way more to my liking.
4. How do you imagine your typical client? What would be her/his style and personality?
My client is strong and clear and loves to express her sense of self. She often chooses her own jewels. My work is unusual in that I rarely make a collection of one idea in a season. I don't believe in seasons and make what I feel like, regardless of what is expected. My clients are modern and love beauty, not trends, they appreciate how much one-of-a-kind they can find in my collections.
5. Do you have any work rituals? What does a typical day look like for you?
I start the morning visiting with my staff and get a sense of what's going on in the studio. We are a small team and adore one another and our catch ups are one of the best parts of the day. We go over stores requests for their clients, repairs, new work, materials. I'm then at my desk for the rest of the day, taking meetings, playing with stones, eating lunch, playing with my dog, drawing new pieces etc. My studio is surrounded by woods and it's pure joy looking through the open windows and feeling the breeze. I will walk down a few blocks to the Pacific Ocean to search for what I need when I am faced with a challenge.
6. We recently received many of your jewels for the holidays, do you have a favorite piece among them?
I have so many favorites but stand outs are Column of Tears Blue Tourmaline Cabachon Ring. The cut outs on the side of the ring are inspired by a carved column of tears at the Basilica Cistern, an underground cistern in Istanbul. Also, I love my leaf earrings with dewdrops...
7. You have designed jewels for movies, is there a particular artistic project that you would love to be part of?
I would like to design jewels for the moment peace on earth is achieved. They would glow like the Aurora Borealis.
8. You live in Los Angeles - a dream destination for many Parisians! - do you have any favorite addresses there that you could recommend?
Gjusta is a great bakery/deli/cafe in Venice. Their sourdough is great and so is the ginger lemonade. Double Zero is a wonderful vegan pizza restaurant in Venice. Try the Gigante Bean pizza. It's spicy and delicious. Take a hike at Paseo Miramar in Pacific Palisades... Before you go, stop at Erewhon on Sunset Blvd in the Palisades and pick up a picnic lunch. Visit the Getty Museum on the hill just before closing if you want a little art and a little romance. Visit the Getty Malibu if you want an hour of sheer exquisiteness. Go to the beach... Walk in the sand and watch the sunset. Try to get tickets to a Laker game...