Polly Wales

A sarcastic, dry-humored Victorian-era jewelry lover with laid-back style. We weren't sure whether to interview Polly Wales or get a DNA test to rule out relation. This cheeky British designer has cornered the modern market on direct casting: a very risky style of setting stones. Who needs the roulette table at COUTURE when every single piece is a gamble? FFR is counting on an impressive new collection in Vegas. In fact, we'd bet the house on it.

I’m stuck with the good stuff: diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. I guess it could be worse.
— Polly


Let’s have dinner at your favorite neighborhood restaurant. Where do we go and what do we eat? 

 Where we live is out in the Cotswolds countryside – it's beautiful bucolic English landscape, so I’d take you to The Woolpack owned by the artist Dan Chadwick. It has amazing views across the Slad Valley and is famous for being the local of the author Laurie Lee, who wrote "Cider with Rosie" there. You can pass the winters there by the fire drinking whiskey or the summers enjoying the rolling hills. 



 If you could buy any piece of contemporary jewelry from another jeweler, what would it be?

 That's a tough one. I have my amazing fantasy wardrobe of jewels and there are so many jewelers' work that I love, but I think I would want to buy something that I never took off. I love the carved stone pieces by Fernando Jorge, the green jade ring I can imagine becoming at one with my hand...the shapes are so soft and the color is lush. His carved stone pieces are so warm, soft and feminine – they look beautiful even on working hands. I think that's a real sign of beauty in a piece...that's my kind of jewelry. 



The vacation spot that you keep going back to over and over? 

 New York! I pretend it's work but it's always a pleasure.



What’s the last book you couldn’t put down?

 The Miniaturist...it was a brief foray back into literature before my new baby was born. I love magic realism and this ticked that box. I have beautiful piles of books winking at me, telling me tales of calm days in the sun and cozy nights in. They are all gathering dust, incubating. They may have to wait quite some time.

 What's your go-to cocktail? 

 On long haul flights I love a Bloody Mary, but they never have tabasco, however mini bottles of tabasco are available at the Wynn, so that's switched the game up.

 The gemstone you’re currently lusting after is . . .

With the way I work, casting the stones in place, so many soft stones are off limits. I'm stuck with the good stuff: diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. I guess it could be worse. 

 It’s your birthday and your favorite flower arrangement arrives – what does it look like? 

 It might be super soft, old roses, or peonies...all dusty hues and fragrant, so you want to bury your face in it. Or, it might be all tropical and garish, with pink pineapples and protea, really bright and bonkers. I guess which one of those it was would depend on who it was from and what they know of me. Both would be very well received.



What’s your favorite piece that you made in the last year and why?

 I don’t know how to answer that. Because we cast the stones in place in our jewelry, all sorts of wonderful things happen each and every time. The colors of the stones shine differently, through different colors of gold, and depending on how exposed the stones are. So it's really painterly and sometimes we take risks with color palettes we think are going to be horrendous and they just zing and sing and make you smile in ways you wouldn’t expect. So, I would say, based on that, all the pieces we have been making with rainbow sapphires and rose gold have really made me happy. 



You have 30 minutes to work out – what do you do? 

 I have two small children – sleep.

 What was the first piece of jewelry you bought for yourself? 

 It was a silver Victorian fob chain with a tassel. I bought it with my savings from working in the sandwich shop next door. I was 15. I wore that thing to death.


If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Vivienne Westwood. From art to punk to politics and the environment, she has been rocking it for decades. Plus any woman who doesn’t wear knickers to meet The Queen has got to be fun. I’d like to double date with her and Grayson Perry, two fine examples of British anarchy and eccentricity.

What's the most sentimental piece of jewelry you own and tell us the back story.

 I don’t have a picture but it would be my grandmothers wedding ring. Ok, actually I recently discovered it wasn’t her wedding ring, but a ring given to her by the man she had a 40-year-long affair with, but that's another story. My grandmother always wore big rings, big jewelry, in fact. I always remember her enthusiastic slaps on the knee with a fistful of gold. She set me on the road to jewelry for sure.

 What’s your preferred mode of transportation day-to-day?

The limo arrives around 8.45 to take me to work, at 8.46 it remembers it's forgotten the kids' lunch and backs up down the drive, by the time we all arrive at work I wished I’d walked.


Top 5 bands in your playlist - go! 

 I’m an old Indie kid and when I get a chance to be by myself and listen to music, I always have to get through the classics before I can branch out. I’d have to start with some Nick Cave, and branch out once I’d found my feet.

You’re having guests for the weekend. What’s your signature dish that you cook for them? 

 I’m always trying new stuff, when I get a chance. I love cookbooks, they are just food porn, so I try stuff out when we have people to stay. During the week we eat a lot of hot salads with grains and at work we all take turns to cook and eat together. James, my partner, built us a great wonky slab of a table and we eat there everyday. I think it's been really important for everyone to take time out together and talk about non-work stuff. It’s part of my vision where we are part jewelry workshop/part cult.


Be honest – who’s your celebrity crush?!

Owen Wilson.  I think I’d enjoy his company.

 If you could only carry one handbag for the rest of your life, what would it be?

 There’s a handbag I like to visit, by Givenchy, called the Nightingale. I liked it so much I had them installed in all my favorite stores, in all of my favorite cites.

 What’s your signature scent and what three words would you use to describe it? 

 Right now it's Rose 31 from Le Labo. Warm, exotic, and hippy.


 If you could sit front row at any fashion show, which would it be and why? 

 My friend, Martina Spetlova, has a beautiful label producing woven leathers. Her jackets are amazing. I’d choose to be front row at her first Paris show. That would be a moment.



Tell us your beauty secrets.

 We have met right?

(ed note: HA! Indeed. And you’re a babe, so spill it, Poll.)

Sugar (by Fresh) make the most amazing lip balm. Hardcore mascara, surely, is a must. And Bumble & Bumble for the kind of products that make fine hair look like its been making out at a great party and only just made it home.



Signature nail polish and/or lipstick shade for a night on the town?

 Tattoo blue grey. It’s the only one.


Peep Polly's beautiful collection online at Twist and Catbird