When Sia Taylor was a young girl, her father traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan. “On his return he opened his bag and pulled out a battered piece of cloth, tied up with string. Inside were two beautiful pieces of tribal jewelry,” explains the jewelry designer. “Somehow the humble packaging made the jewelry even more magical—and I think that has inspired my aesthetic ever since.”
That spellbinding quality is infused throughout Taylor’s namesake fine jewelry line, handcrafted in her studio in Somerset, England. “After completing my masters in sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London I knew that I wanted to make pieces on a more intimate scale, something you could hold in your hand,” says Taylor. “Jewelry seemed the natural fit.”
The designer enrolled in jewelry-making classes, “but much of what I do is self taught, working out for myself how to make the form I see in my head,” she says. While spending a year in the wildlife-filled Okavango Delta in Botswana, Taylor’s precious metal-driven line began to take shape. “I worked on a little bench under a tree, drawing and making simple pieces inspired by the forms and textures of the plants, seeds, and grasses around me,” she says. In 2007 Taylor showed her line for the first time in London, where a buyer from Dover Street Market promptly snapped up the whole collection.
Nature continues to dictate the lines of her work, with Taylor taking cues from the “delicate beauty” found in her natural surroundings around the globe. Case in point: Her stint in Africa was followed by 12 years living amidst a pine forest on the island of Ibiza, where her daily walks would inform her line. “I would come back to my studio with tiny pods and beetles and sticks which developed into new collections,” says the designer, who now draws ideas in equal measure from the English countryside. “I try to make my jewelry reminiscent of these forms—but not literal—so a necklace might give the impression of being like a collection of petals, or leaves or seeds.”
Each piece starts out as a drawing, with Taylor repeating forms and patterns until her vision emerges. But nothing is resolved until the pieces begin to come to life in Taylor’s hands. “I like to keep the elements of my jewelry simple,” says the designer, who likes to juxtapose precious metals (think yellow gold, platinum, ruthenium) in her pieces, playing off both warm and cool color palettes, as well as size and texture. “It’s more like making a painting than ‘designing’— finding new patterns as I go along, making changes.” Often times, Taylor will end up with a completely different piece than she imagined from the start.
But there’s one factor that always remains the same, she says. “My jewelry appeals to people who appreciate something handcrafted and soulful, with an understated, quiet kind of beauty.