Jean Scott-Moncrieff came to jewellery by chance. While working as a graphic designer, a colleague suggested that they sign up for an evening course in jewellery making.
“I still have the first ring I made. I was so thrilled,” she says. “It has a terrible solder joint but I love it.”
She started making pieces at home when her daughters were young. “The marvellous thing about jewellery making is that you can work in a very small space – I had a bench pin with a clamp on my kitchen table. That was enough.”
These days, she works in a timber-framed workshop in rural Sussex that she helped to design. “It was important to get the lighting right. As you heat precious metals, you need to be able to see their colour change to cherry red.”
Jean uses the very simplest tools. “The ancient Egyptians used bow drills, and mine is one of my favourite tools.” Part of the appeal is that it keeps her in touch with the ancient jewellery – Roman, Egyptian – that inspires her. “I look at the jewellery created at that time and think, if they could do it, using the simple tools that they had, so can I.”
She is drawn to flawed gemstones. “I look at a stone with irregularities and think ‘That is the only one of its kind in the whole world. How amazing.’ I love snowflake diamonds. They look like the cracked ice in your gin and tonic – full of white inclusions, but still sparkly, catching the light in that way that only diamonds can.”
Her work requires great concentration. “I try not to have too many distractions – rather wonderfully, the phone in my studio is out of action. I have such a nice time hidden away. I feel so lucky to be let loose on all of this beauty.”
“The ancient Egyptians used bow drills, and mine is one of my favourite tools. I look at the jewellery created at that time and think, if they could do it, using the simple tools that they had, so can I.”Jean Scott-Moncrieff