Designs inspired by nature are the hallmark of Nelson-based Louise Douglas Jewellery. Unique, delicate pieces of nature re-created to evoke memories of special occasions and places are at the heart of this boutique jeweller’s design aesthetic.
Louise, founder of Louise Douglas Jewellery, developed her fascination with jewellery early in life and as she grew, so too did her affinity towards nature. Now she combines the two passions by designing and creating unique, tactile earrings, pendants and rings that when worn evoke feelings of being close to nature.
Her customers are not characterised by age, income or background but rather a desire to emotionally connect with jewellery and express emotions for passions, places and people through their purchases.
While young, Louise discovered her liking for jewellery. “My mother and grandmother both loved jewellery and I was always digging through their jewellery boxes.”
At 18 she started selling handcrafted FIMO jewellery to fashion and design stores throughout New Zealand. An NMIT course in jewellery design followed at age 21, and then Louise headed for New York (USA) to work as a designer for large fashion jewellery houses.
“I learnt most of my skills on the job or from experimentation,” she explains.
After 15 years in New York and Boston, designing for private label companies and her own collections, Louise and her husband/business partner Martin Clark returned to his hometown of Nelson, with their young son. That was over a decade ago; time since then has been spent making jewellery in the garage at home and launching it throughout New Zealand into design stores, galleries and boutiques.
She ran a retail outlet on Nile Street in Nelson for six years before earlier this year moving to the Hardy Street boutique that bears her name, stocking three separate ranges of nature-inspired jewellery.
Miniature sculptures abound; tiny bees with pearl bodies, scintillating dragonflies, sea shells, kina, jellyfish and a whole bouquet of botanicals. Every original piece is hand-carved; a labour-intensive and organic process with the end result a finely wrought tactile ornament. “They’re made with hands and hearts; every piece, including the findings and clasps, is handmade.”
Drawn by the intricacies of the ocean and the natural world in general, she also adores art and fashion, taking inspiration from all around her when creating. “I look at a lot of old scientific botanical style drawings when I design but I stylise things to fit my aesthetic. The main aim of my work is for people to feel closer to the beauty of nature when they wear it.”
Many of her loyal local customers and visitors pop in every year to add to their collections and buy gifts and mementos for their travels.
The pieces are not always literal recreations, but rather interpretations. “The imperfections of nature can create the most alluring design. For me, it is about textures, layers and stories within an object.”
Louise and fellow designer/production manager Sarah Haynns create all their pieces in Nelson’s CBD where they have a Hardy Street boutique retail outlet and workshop. Also part of the team is Louise’s mother Rachel Douglas, plus part-time sales staff and two part-time jewellers.
Stocking her range with more than 20 retailers throughout New Zealand and creating new designs keeps Louise and the team busy, yet every couple of years she indulges in a special charity project. The first one was a honey bee, evolving when several of the insects flew into her shop and became unsuspecting models. A dragonfly followed; again part of Louise’s desire to create a link between nature and bigger issues such as the need for more bees.