Q&A: Olivia Norman

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Olivia Norman is Head of Jewellery at Jessica McCormack Ltd, which has its HQ in Carlos Place, Mayfair, London. She oversees the in-house fine jewellery production for the design led brand, as well as having oversight of main business functions. Olivia was formerly at Shaun Leane for seven years as Commercial Manager and has extensive experience in strategic planning and business development, retail and sales, design, product development and production. She is a graduate of the School of Jewellery in Birmingham. She answers the Benchpeg Q&A.

What’s your name, and what do you for a living?

ON: Olivia Norman. I am Head of Jewellery for Jessica McCormack Ltd, Mayfair, London

Jessica McCormack Boutique at Carlos Place, London 

How did you come to work in the jewellery industry?

ON: I have always loved jewellery.

I used to love rummaging through my mum’s jewellery box.

She used to dabble in jewellery making and had a wonderful collection, ranging from Henning Koppel for Georg Jensen from the 60s, a scarab carved from amethyst set into a big silver ring, and a long gold necklace with a tigers claw dating from the 1800s that belonged to my Great Great Grandmother who used to live in the far east.

I studied Art Foundation after school to find what I wanted to specialise in and stumbled across jewellery making, then went on to study Jewellery & Silversmithing at Birmingham's School of Jewellery at degree level.

I worked in Oxford for Justice for a few years after graduation before moving to London where I worked for Shaun Leane after hunting him down at Goldsmiths' Fair one year.

How would you describe your work to someone who doesn’t know it?

ON: I am behind the scenes in the business and whilst I work with glorious pieces, my work stretches across many disciplines; working closely with the Sales Team, Design Team, the Workshop plus Marketing & PR. 

What is your creative process?

ON: Working on beautiful jewels with the Design Team and the Workshop so they stay true to the style aesthetic we have created at Jessica’s and keeping products on brand.

Ensuring we have the best craftsmen and makers, so the quality of the pieces are the best they can be.

Sourcing the perfect diamond or semi precious stone for a client to choose from whilst ensuring all jewels are created to a high standard and a specific budget and design aesthetic.

Where do you love to shop?

ON: I’m not a fan of traipsing around shops anymore, so I do most of my shopping online.

My current favourite for clothes is finery.com

I do, however, love to window shop down Bruton Street and around Bond Street on my way to work. 

What is your inspiration?

ON: Well made jewellery.

Jewellery that looks just as good from the underneath as it does from the front.

Where every little element is clearly considered and has obviously been a labour of love to create. 

What piece of jewellery do you most treasure?

ON: There are two –

My paternal grandmother gave me her silver locket. It’s’ simple and elegant and has a picture of her and my grandfather in. She used to wear it every day so it is super important to me.

My mum went to visit my grandmother in Australia one year and bought me back a black fire opal. I was lucky enough to have Ben Rowe design a pendant with it using blue enamel. It has an evil eye/talismanic feel to it, which I love. 

What piece of jewellery do you most desire?

ON: Anything designed by Louis Cartier from the 1920’s. 

I love the use of diamonds and black onyx with huge emeralds.  

I was bought a book on Cartier as a gift, 'High Jewellery and Precious Objects by Cartier, The Odyssey of a Style', and I have since been obsessed by his work. 

Art Deco Emerald Onyx Diamond Pin, ​Cartier c1925

If you could only be remembered for one thing in your working life, what would it be?

The basemement workshop at Jessica McCormack, Mayfair, London.

ON: I feel this would have to be the workshop I installed at Jessica McCormack.

What once was a dull basement office in Mayfair with stained carpet tiles became a beautifully designed hub of creativity.

When it opened in 2015 there were just two mounters and we now have four working for us, including an apprentice.

Its exciting watching the growth of the workshop and to be so close to such a fun and vibrant space.

What would be your advice to someone starting out in the industry?

ON: Have passion and oomph. Don’t be afraid of hard work.

If you believe in the product and yourself, you will achieve.

The Benchpeg Proust Q&A

  1. What’s your favourite work of art?

    Top: Monet’s 'Water Lilies', the Orangery in Paris. Work by Sebastiaan Bremer, 'To Joy Universal Time Machine'.

    ON: I don’t have a favourite exactly, but I’ll never forget seeing Monet’s 'Water Lilies' at the Orangery in Paris when I was at college – I was completely awestruck by their size and surprising detail.

    But if I were to put art up in my house, it would be something from Sebastiaan Bremer. There are a few pieces of his work at Carlos Place and I fell in love with them.

  2. Who from past or present would you invite to a dinner party for the evening?

    ON: Elizabeth Taylor. As long as she brought all her jewels with her. She would no doubt have some amazing stories to tell! 

  3. Do you have any pets, if yes, what is their name?

    ON: Sadly not anymore, but I’d love a dog.

    I had two Jack Russell Terriers growing up – Musket & OSKA (it stood for Our Small Killer Animal).

  4. What is your most treasured possession?

    ON: I like to think I could survive without material things, if I really had to, so I’d say family & friends. They keep me ticking over. 

  5. What would you consider a perfect day?

    ON: It would need to be full of sunshine, coffee, some sightseeing and exploring, followed by plenty of wine whilst watching the sun go down.

    But then I’d also love to combine my two favourite pastimes and go on a paddle boarding and yoga holiday.

  6. Is there a favourite journey, trip or voyage you hold dear?

    ON: I went to India in 2004 and am desperate to go back. The bright colours, the sights and smells are wonderful.

    But more recently I got my travel fix from an adventure across Morocco that ended up at a small festival in the desert on the Algerian border. 

    ​It was incredible laying out under the stars and experiencing somewhere so vast and epic, all with a fantastic soundtrack. 

  7. What is your greatest achievement?
    ON: I’m pretty proud to have got to where I am in my career right now, but I’m not done yet!

  8. What advice would tell your younger self?

    ON: Have faith in yourself and in your decisions. Have some well-deserved confidence.

  9. Can you sum yourself up in one word?
    ON: Nope – I am too interesting to be summarised! 

  10. What motto do you live by?
    ON: Good reflection, good word, good deed.

Image credits: Images sourced from Olivia Norman and Pinterest.


Rebecca van Rooijen


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