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Photographed by Dan Wilton

It's Only Rock n Roll

Dazed speaks to jewellery designer Hannah Martin about her uniquely sculptural and masculine designs

Hannah Martin is a young jewellery designer based in London who has been establishing her place in high-end jewellery slowly and steadily. Since graduating from CSM in 2005 she has gone on to produce her own line of successful high end and conceptual jewellery as well as working on exciting collaborations with designers such as Hannah Marshall and Carolyn Massey. So what is life like for such a sought-after talent?

Dazed Digital: Where did a young Hannah Martin grow up?
Hannah Martin: I was born in Yorkshire, but we moved to Bristol when I was young, this is where I grew up really.

DD: How did your interest in jewellery begin?
Hannah Martin:  I moved to London at 18 to start my foundation year at Central Saint Martins, I remember my teacher hadn’t even heard of CSM but my dad knew it was the best and that’s why I wanted to go there. It was a great course as we tried everything and that is where I discovered jewellery design. After my foundation I choose to stay at CSM and do my degree in Jewellery Design.

DD: Did your degree prepare you for the industry?
Hannah Martin: Yes, definitely. I had a placement at Cartier, in Paris, and really learnt a lot. I was not from a family of gold leaf chocolate cake, and suddenly saw this whole new world. Such luxury, quality, beauty and glamour, it was amazing! I knew I wanted to mix these qualities with something more dark and sexy for my own label. Working with Cartier also taught me a lot about consulting which has been another aspect of my work.

DD: When did you start your own label?
Hannah Martin: Straight after graduating I rented a small studio space with my tutor and launched my first collection "Rock and Roll" which grew from my degree collection.

DD: Are your collections seasonal?
Hannah Martin: I don’t work in seasons, apart from when I collaborate with designers, my own collections just tend to develop over time. Each piece is carefully crafted and therefore timeless, not a throwaway after a season. They all have the same thread that runs through them, my style, but each collection has its own story.

DD: Can you describe a story?
Hannah Martin: I always create a figure of inspiration behind each collection. This always tends to be a little like a Frankenstein character, a combination of elements that are inspiring me at the time. "Vincent" was my interpretation of a Russian gangster, partly inspired the movie Eastern Promise, he is a fallen Tsar, ruling the underbelly of London. He is a shadowy character, with incredible tattoos and has a strong masculinity, so most importantly he is very sexy. For "The Forgotten Treasures of the Infamous Pirates of the Aguila Dorada" I imagined a mature and savvy pirate, all stubble and personality, decorated in these rich ornate jewels. He is very gruff and thick-set with bulbous and heavy jewels with amazing stones.
Once I have this character in mind I design the jewellery to suit him or her. It has to be fitting of what he would wear and approve of, and most importantly, I ask myself that question constantly as I am designing “Is it beautiful?” If the answer is no, then the design doesn’t make it into production.

DD: Tell me about your collaborations?
Hannah Martin: My first collaboration was with Aimee McWilliams and then Jean-Pierre Braganza. I have since collaborated with Carolyn Massey for the last two seasons and this season Hannah Marshall. Collaborations are an exciting way to push the boundaries of jewellery. It’s great to take on board a direction that the other designer is moving in, and offer something else up. They can sometimes be in the same vein, or sometimes different, but they always work. As the collections are without seasons, it is really fun to do something slightly different that ties in with the twice-yearly fashion calendar.

DD: What materials do you work with?
Hannah Martin:  The pieces are visually masculine and sculptural, and elegant in detail, so the materials are key to giving a piece it’s identity and appeal. I have always worked with 18 carat yellow gold, rose gold, white gold with a varying array of stones including white, black & brown diamonds, amber and blue / black sapphires, rubies. About two years ago began to explore silver which I also really enjoy working with.

DD: Where can we buy Hannah Martin?
Hannah Martin: Dover Street Market and Matches in London, and a new luxury jewellery store in Kuwait called Octium, designed by the legendarily talented Jaime Hayon. The website and stockists are both elements that I’ve been working on very closely with my business partner, Nathan Morse. We have been tweaking our new sales website that we launched earlier this year, which is doing really well. It gives us a great face internationally, and despite popular belief, people love to buy luxury online, especially when we offer Skype appointments!