WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN AND HAVE YOU ALWAYS HAD THIS STYLE?
I didn’t always work like this, it all came about in the past five years after working for a company based in London, Erickson Beamon. I was there working on their diamond range, very over the top pieces. I was in amongst it, you had people from vogue coming to collect things, celebrity clients, it was an intense time. They are one of the top costume jewellery brands in the world.
Prior to that I studied at Central Saint Martins after Ayr college in Scotland, there I played with materials like porcelain, aluminium but colour was always important to me. I enjoyed experimenting and learning my craft. I have always been attracted to the fashion side of the jewellery world, I love designing for brands and the runway. But my love for, dare I say it, ‘costume’ jewellery came from Beamon.
HOW WOULD DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE THEN AND NOW?
My college work was completely different. I’m not sure if I was to exhibit it all in one room I would be able to recognise it. However, the idea for Lucky Bitches came about while I was at Art School, all be it in different materials, a porcelain ball spinning on an aluminium shank, but everyone loved it at college, it was a design I had to revisit and bring it up to date.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO SET UP ON YOUR OWN?
After the financial crash in 2008 I was made redundant at Erickson Beamon, I started working immediately on my own brand. It was a whirlwind experience and I learned so much there. Losing my job was a blessing in disguise, it kick started me into setting up on my own and I wouldn’t be where I am now without that. I worked for many years freelancing for others and now I work on my own designs and have full creative control.
It was daunting time, I had to move back with my parents in Troon and I began making Bridal Jewellery as I didn’t know what else to do, I had never made costume jewellery before. So I had to re-think things, I started talking to people, going back to classes and learning again.
At that time, people weren’t buying precious jewellery, I knew my market would be in costume jewellery, I saw a path and I took it.
FASHION OR CRAFT?
I dabble with both, I really enjoy the bespoke, it is important for the business and it keeps me interested. I try not to define myself; I still want people to treasure everything I make.
DO YOU THINK PEOPLE CAN CHERISH A PIECE OF COSTUME JEWELLERY AS MUCH AS PRECIOUS JEWELLERY?
Yes and no, fashion pieces have become more collectable in recent years but in terms of value and materials, it’s a different market.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO SUPPORT SCOTLAND AND YOUR HOMETOWN?
I have a lot of people in Troon that support me and it’s important for me to recognise where it all began, it keeps me grounded. I have stocked a shop there, The Herbary since I began and they continue to champion me, which is humbling. Scotland doesn’t allow you to get above your station, which I am grateful for. I have always loved Glasgow (minus the weather), it’s a gritty city and it’s really creative. Quality of life is really important to me, I can live the city life but I can hop on a train and be in Loch Lomond within 20 minutes.
FASHION, DESIGN, COLLABORATIONS, PHOTO SHOOTS, CATWALKS...WHAT'S THE MOST EXCITING PART?
Scotland Re:Designed show, last year, there was such a buzz and the adrenaline behind the scenes was great. When the last look came out (a jet crystal mask and harness), I could hear the audience’s reaction - sometimes you spend days making something that are seen for 10 seconds. Often your jewellery goes out into the world but right there I got to see an immediate reaction.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
I love creating a brand and building the excitement. The market is constantly changing and you always have to keep people engaged, I revel in the challenge of that. As a jeweller, I think we constantly need to keep people interested or we can become stagnant. It’s a time consuming part of the business but I really enjoy it.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE YOU'VE DESIGNED?
The Octopus Ring; the theme of light in the dark played a part, which seems to be a constant theme throughout my work. It’s a creature from the deep, but incredibly beautiful. The stone inside was intended to be subtle so it showed a depth of colour and light.
HOW WAS YOUR RECENT TRIP TO INDIA?
An opportunity came up through Scottish Development International to promote Scottish businesses. From Glasgow Gin to kneepads, there was a great mix of people. I visited Mumbai, Jaipur and Deli. I wanted to re-establish connections with factories and suppliers i had worked with and then in Jaipur to build relationships with stone dealers and stonecutters. It was an incredible experience and I definitely want to go back, a lot of my inspiration comes from India and a place that endlessly fascinates me.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE TOOL?
Beading needles. I would be lost without them, it’s amazing what you can do with a needle.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR EUAN MCWHIRTER?
I want to start branching into different things, less about the brand and more about the industry. A blog that will reveal processes, inspiration, working with different artisans and the background of my work – The Existential Jeweller, that connects my love of jewellery and travel. The new collection launches online by the end of May. A re-brand by the end of September, that will see me venture into precious jewellery, a studio sale coming up on Thursday, and one day I would love to run my own shop!