You might have spotted New York-based jewelry line Lady Grey splashed on the pages of Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Elle. The line’s heady mix of strong shapes blended with unique detailing (think crushed semiprecious stones cemented back together and Egyptian symbolism) has garnered Lady Grey reign as one of the most buzzed about indie jewelry brands.
The line is named after Lady Jane Grey the British Queen who was beheaded for adultery, and was founded by New York designers Jill Martinelli and Sabine Le Guyader. We sat down with the dynamic duo behind the trending brand to get the scoop on everything from their "progressive design philosophies" to their personal stylings tips for Lady Grey pieces.
AW: You two originally bonded over a background in the dental industry. What is the story, and how did you decide to switch gears into jewelry?
LG: As teenagers, we both held after-school jobs in the dental industry. Sabine worked for her Dad making dental prosthetics in Massachusetts, and Jill assisted an Orthodontist outside of Miami changing wires and welding brackets. We both were more creatively inclined than what these jobs had to offer for our future, so we each decided to go to art school, which is where we met. The tools, processes and materials used in the dental industry are almost identical to what is used to make jewelry, so we were already familiar with lost wax casting, mold making, and soldering; the basics of metalsmithing. It all came really naturally to both of us, and it felt like the right balance of utilizing our technical proficiency and creative expression.
AW: Your collection is highly inspired by fine art. Who/ what are your specific inspirations, and why?
LG: Our education and design philosophy has been very much conceptually driven. We don't want to make jewelry for the sake of adding glittery hardware to a look, we really pay attention to, and are inspired by, the history and psychology of adornment and the power jewelry has held throughout history a meaningful social signifier, wether it is representing your religious beliefs, social status, family heritage, or outside interests.
AW: It is said that you have "progressive design philosophies." Could you elaborate on these specific philosophies?
LG: We take pride in hand making every aspect of our collection, rather than allowing ready-made jewelry components dictate the design. For example: when we wanted to begin using stones, we felt limited in our options. Not wanting to simply choose a stone, a cut, a setting, and put it together, we began experimenting. We smashed up an array of semi-precious stones and crystals, sometimes blending them together or creating patterns with various color combinations, and set them into hand crafted “bezel settings,” which served as the subject and overall silhouette of the pieces. Unsatisfied with the available crystals, we took it one step further and grew our own bismuth in the studio. Through this process, we’ve redefined the traditional use of stone settings and the context in which they are typically used.
AW: Who would you say is the ideal Lady Grey wearer?
LG: Goldie Hawn in Overboard: when she's wearing a sequin gown and an up-do, asks for a beer, and turns the yacht around to go back to Elk Cove.
AW: How would you describe your brand in one sentence or less?
LG: A jewelry line for the girl who says "I usually don't wear jewelry"
AW: What are some of your personal stylings tips for Lady Grey pieces?
LG: We love to layer a lot, which is why we design a lot of necklaces at different lengths. Wearing a choker or collar with a longer necklace (or two!) hanging below it is a my go to jewelry look to play up a simple outfit, wear a large cuff bracelet over the sleeve cuff of a button down blouse. When layering, I usually like to focus on one area of the body, like if I'm wearing a ton of rings I won't wear any other jewelry, or stack 3-4 bracelets but go bare everywhere else.