Violet Darkling is the alter ego of New Zealand born designer Louisa Richwhite. Inspired by the ‘darkness’ and all things nocturnal, teamed with her outdoor roots and quirky humor, Violet Darkling reflects a desire to make life just a little more magical. Growing up on an island off the coast of New Zealand sparked a certain creativity and imagination in Richwhite.
Violet Darkling’s unique collection of jewellery is sculptured in silver and gold and dripping with semi-precious stones. These distinctive pieces are a collector’s item and true statements of quality and originality. Richwhite’s ability to transport us back to our childhood is developed through her distinctive collection, where she reminds us of the fears, the magic, our fascination with ‘Things of the Night’.
Designer Louisa Richwhite fills us in through our FAB Q&A…
FAB: Your Name:
Violet Darkling: Louisa Richwhite [Designer]
FAB: Country of descent/origin:
Violet Darkling: New Zealand
FAB: Country of residence:
Violet Darkling: London, England
FAB: Design background (a list of qualifications in design if you have any and where you studied design – if you did):
Violet Darkling: Fashion Design American Intercontinental University, London
FAB: Why jewellery design/why not another career?
Violet Darkling: From the age of 12 to 25 I had my heart set on fashion design, and had never considered any other career. But I vividly remember the day I drew my first piece of jewellery for my final collection at University, I had a possum ring and an owl earring made to go with the clothing line. I was surprised by how many people commented on the pieces, and wanted to buy them.
At this point I knew little about precious stones, metals, nor running a business. Jewellery design wasn’t something I had set my sights on, but I soon realised this is my real passion and where my talent lies…I loved the whole nocturnal concept, and felt there was an opportunity in the jewellery market for something unique, of excellent quality, and yet affordable. And so began the process of starting Violet Darkling.
Violet Darkling: It’s hard to pinpoint one specific moment, as there have been so many highlights so far. Every time I receive a compliment on the jewellery whether it’s through press, blogs, people taking a general interest in the brand, and obviously spotting people wearing the jewellery; these are all highlights as they are so encouraging. With positive feedback I’m motivated to develop the collection.
Every morning is a ‘highlight’ as I wake up knowing that I am going to work with people who are devoted to the success of Violet Darkling and this is something I am very proud of. They are there because they believe in the brand, and they believe in my vision and creations.
FAB: Other designers you are watching/like/appreciate?
Violet Darkling: I really admire Boucheron and Theo Fennell for the incredible quality and very cool design. I love the colour and vibrancy of their stones. Some of their pieces are actually quite similar to mine…but that is probably why I like!
FAB: Your brand/design style in a nutshell (5 words to describe your work/brand/style of design):
Violet Darkling: Nocturnal, quirky, cute, contradiction, quality.
FAB: The Violet Darkling (a description of your ideal client, who they are):
Violet Darkling: The woman I have in mind is cute and quirky, strong and mysterious, innocent but very naughty…and creative. She’d be a little bit wild, a little eccentric, but with a good kind spirit. My ideal male client would primarily be confident; Men don’t generally feel comfortable wearing jewellery, so confidence is required. I imagine him to be witty, crazy, have effortless style, and a bit of attitude.
But in a formal situation he would be crisp and clean, wearing a well-tailored beautiful suit, which would work perfectly with his cufflinks! I’m lucky enough to have many of my ideal clients already wearing the jewellery, which is encouraging and really nice to see.
FAB: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Violet Darkling: I’m inspired by anything and everything ‘of the night’. The current collection is called ‘Treasures of the Darkling Wood’ which is based on fierce nocturnal animals with big eyes and sharp teeth; animals of a child’s nightmare. I have given these creatures bows, and cute details to give them a girly femininity. The candy coloured gemstones are inspired by midnight feasts. We have sourced incredible black plating, and brilliant stones, so the stones against the black pop out like colourful fireflies. I do all my design work in the English countryside, which is where I am most creative. I have a little studio there that looks out over fields and the woods. I love being out of the city, hearing and seeing all the owls, foxes and other woodland animals.
My Pomeranian is full of character, and also inspires me. He protects his precious objects with his teeth barred, snarling and growling. He has hilarious facial expressions which I try to recreate in my work…..He really sums up this whole contradiction. Cute as can be, but terribly naughty.
FAB: Design signatures (the things you do in your design that is signature to you and your work only):
Violet Darkling: My signature would have to be the nocturnal theme of the brand; all pieces being based on, or inspired by the night.
As far as I’m aware, I’ve never seen a Fossa or Tarsier used in any piece of jewellery, so those two animals are a unique signature to Violet Darkling, and to date have been my most popular designs.
FAB: Materials you mainly work with:
Violet Darkling: Working with some of the finest craftsmen in the industry, all of the jewellery is cast in solid sterling silver and plated in black rhodium, 18ct rose and yellow gold. All pieces are available on request in solid 18ct gold, and can be customised. Every care is taken to ensure the superior quality is second to none and only semi precious and precious stones of an exceptional cut and quality are used, including Tourmaline, Topaz, Amethyst, Citrine, Sapphires and Diamonds.
FAB: Your favourite piece in your collection/all your work so far and why:
Violet Darkling: It would probably be the Spider Bow earrings, because they are unique, delicate and feminine but with a dark twist.
The spider alone maybe too creepy and unoriginal, but the bow adds a girly element and becomes the spiders thread. I love that as a pair they are asymmetric, as it gives the wearer a quirky individuality.
FAB: Most well known person/celebrity to have worn your jewellery to date:
Violet Darkling: Rihanna who is spotted regularly in her gold Fossa Ring, and Sienna Miller who has a black Tarsier Ring.
FAB: Price range:
Violet Darkling: Prices range from £130 for the Spider and Bow Necklace to £1,300 for a rose gold plated heart and pink Tourmaline pave bone necklace. Violet Darkling’s gold collection starts at £2,900 for a solid 18ct yellow gold Tarsier necklace.
FAB: Where we can buy your pieces
Violet Darkling: www.violetdarkling.com