Scottish jewellery designer Alison Macleod’s obsession with jewellery started in childhood, and her careful cultivation of that passion has led to her build a luxurious brand of jewels that specialises in sentiment-laden designs that can be worn every day.
A cornerstone of the brand is her signature Catkin technique – a complicated a labour-intensive process that creates beautifully textured gold. You might see it across bands, or in disc format set alongside sweetly hued jewels, and it is always hewn in Fairtrade gold.
This October 15th & 16th, Alison Macleod will take her jewels to The Jewellery Cut Live in association with Fuli Gemstones for the first time. Ahead of her show debut, we caught up with the designer to talk craft, inspiration and why you should definitely pop by her stand for a chat.
Jewellery designer Alison Macleod
How did you become a jewellery designer?
“It sounds a bit bonkers but I have wanted to be a jewellery designer since I was a little girl. I used to make bits and pieces from basic materials and sell them to our neighbours. In a way, I’ve been in business since I was eight. After school, I went off to Edinburgh College of Art and studied Jewellery and Silversmithing under Dorothy Hogg and Susan Cross. They both gave us a good technical grounding as well as a focus on the expressive, fine art side of jewellery. After graduating all I wanted to do was make and sell and 18 years later I’m still here.”
Tell us about the Alison Macleod brand.
“I design and make delicately patterned jewellery using Fairtrade gold, each piece imbued with meaning and sentiment. I have an intuitive way of working, surrounding myself with pinboards and found treasures that fuel my creative approach. I have a small team working away in rural Scotland, making fine jewellery with a softer edge.”
Where do you find inspiration?
“Antique jewellery, museums, curiosity cabinets, rifling through my mum’s jewellery box as a child, junk shops, flea markets, Giotto, Vermeer, Tim Walker, flowers, pavement finds.”
Alison Macleod 18ct Fairtrade gold and diamond Catkin Reflections pendant, £3,740, buy now at The Jewellery Cut Shop
How do you make your signature Catkin patterned gold?
“I build my signature Catkin pattern by carefully layering hundreds of tiny discs into a fish scale pattern. These elements are then brought together with precious stones in little balanced compositions using the sensibility of collaging on a tiny scale.“
How do you incorporate sustainability in your work?
“I am very passionate about using Fairtrade gold. My pieces are all made in the UK and I have an anti-fast-fashion approach. My team and I make quality pieces to be worn, loved and passed to future generations. Each piece is presented in an antique jewellery box, reusing these often discarded but beautiful objects.”
Tell us about your latest collection. What can visitors see at your stand at The Jewellery Cut Live in association with Fuli Gemstones?
“At The Jewellery Cut Live, I will be launching a new collection of Fairtrade gold rings, earrings and necklaces bringing together my signature Catkin pattern with clusters of diamonds in soft, natural tones. The collection started life with a group of champagne diamonds that caught my eye which I have collaged together with other shapes and tones. At the show, I will be creating a cabinet of curiosities, bringing together staple pieces from my collection with brand new designs. There will be lots of champagne diamonds, sapphires, rubies and tourmalines sparkling against my dark walnut display.“
Alison Macleod 18ct Fairtrade gold and gemstone ring, POA, enquire at Alison Macleod
Why should people seek you out at The Jewellery Cut Live?
“There’s nothing like seeing jewellery in real life and my pieces are so tactile, you get a fuller picture from trying them on. Plus I love to chat.”
Can you tell us… what is your favourite jewel from your own personal collection?
“My heirloom locket gifted to me by my mum, a sentimental piece with a mysterious story to tell. My mum was allowed to pick from the jewellery box of a deceased distant relative and found this locket which happened to have her own birth date engraved in the front along with the mysterious initials OBH. In its new life with me, it contains little pictures of my two boys and I have clustered it together with a couple of Catkin pendants of my own design. I never take it off.“
Alison Macleod 18ct Fairtrade gold Catkin Contemplation necklace, £440, buy now at The Jewellery Cut Shop
Alison Macleod will be exhibiting at The Jewellery Cut Live in association with Fuli Gemstones. The show will take place on the 15th & 16th of October, 2021, at The Royal Institution in London’s Mayfair. Book your ticket here