Dec 6, 2020
She studied in Florence, Rome, and Melbourne. With more than 8 years experience in the jewellery industry, Jessica Crema is now making waves with her own signature line of handmade contemporary pieces. Married to a talented artist and Mumma to her beautiful son, we sat down with Jess to pick her brains about the jewellery industry, how she manages her business, and her incredible encounter with the Dalai Lama.
Thanks for catching up with us today Jess. Can you tell us a little more about yourself? Growing up were you always a creative soul?
Growing up I had a pretty amazing and fortunate childhood. Travelling is big in my family and I was lucky enough to start my OS travels as early as 5 years old. I remember from a very early age my mum saying to me, “try to buy a piece of jewellery from every country you visit to remember the experience you had.” I have always had a love of jewellery from a very early age. I remember Princess Jasmine, from Aladdin being my favourite cartoon character because she lived in the Middle East and wore big earrings and a necklace. I used to draw a lot when I was younger, but I honestly feel I was more creative by the way in which I expressed myself through clothes and jewellery.
How did you discover your passion for jewellery?
As I mentioned earlier, I travelled from a young age and was fascinated by the jewellery I saw around the world. I used to try on my mum’s jewellery and wear it all. I also think it’s just in my blood. Every time my Nonna would return to Italy she would bring back gold pieces for me. She still recalls me saying to her, “Nonna please bring back real gold. Only real gold.” (Haha) So I guess being Italian, I have always had the appreciation for beautiful adornments. It’s in the blood.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the jewellery industry and what made you want to create your own label?
I wanted to start making jewellery because I loved it so much. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be incredible if I knew how to make my own designs and be able to make the jewellery I wanted? There is a lot to be said about the jewellery industry at the moment. It’s the same as the clothing industry. This emphasis on fast fashion. Consumers want their items NOW. They don’t want to pay too much for each item as they will only wear it once or twice and want a change. That whole ethos is not for me and is definitely not what my label stands for.
How would you describe your style of Jewellery?
It started off with more of an ethnic/Indian/Middle Eastern ascetic, being really influenced by tribal jewellery. I was very inspired by my trips to India, especially Rajasthan. Very intricate. Mainly working with silver. I used a lot of semi-precious stones. I have always been influenced by gemstones. I strongly believe they hold magic from our Earth, and they contain healing vibrations.
However, lately I have moved into more precious, finer pieces. Pieces you have forever and pass down as heirlooms. I feel I have gone back to more of my Italian heritage where pieces are forever pieces and are cherished and worn every day. I still incorporate meaning to my jewellery and symbiology, as I believe the wearer should feel the energy of the piece and relate to it on a personal level. All our pieces are handmade, and the stones are handpicked, so no piece will be exactly the same.
What are your bestselling pieces?
My bestselling pieces would probably be the Black Night ring because it’s been around the longest and a lot of Instagram influencers have this piece. It is a sterling silver ring, made with a black tourmaline stone. Since releasing the new gold collection, my snake rings have been the most popular. As well as the gold love chain, which is such a great universal chain that can be worn every day. Probably one of my favourite pieces.
What are some the most remote places you have shipped customer orders to?
Normally my most popular countries are America and the UK. The strangest country I have shipped to would be Kazakhstan, which I thought was really cool.
Your brand was originally called Lastnight Collective. Why did you choose to rebrand? How have you gone about building awareness of your new brand?
Originally, when I started, my style of design was a lot more ethnic, tribal and I used a lot of silver throughout the range. It was probably a lot more defining of me in my 20’s. Now I have entered a different stage of my life. I guess I appreciate the idea of having less but having more luxurious pieces. I have changed direction of the business and I felt it was appropriate to rebrand. I must admit with Jessica Crema it has been harder to create more awareness of the brand. When I was Lastnight Collective, I was able to send a lot of pieces out to influencers as the cost of each piece was a lot cheaper, being made in silver. Now that my pieces are made mainly in gold and precious stones, it just costs too much to send out. Brand awareness has definitely come more from returning customers and through word of mouth.
What does the design process look like? Where does your inspiration come from?
I sketch out the pieces. Then if they are to be cast, I start the carving out process. This is done by carving the pieces from wax. Then I take it to my caster to get it made in the chosen metal for that particular piece. Once it’s back, I continue the process of finishing the castings and setting the stones. The other pieces are hand made from gold. It’s definitely a “working out” process. I gain most of my inspiration from this beautiful mystical place we call Mother Earth. I love to research old cultures and their association with different symbiology and alchemy, and incorporate that into my designs.
Which materials do you prefer to work with?
100% gold. I hate plated gold and I find gold the most luminous, healing metal to wear.
You met the Dalai Lama! Tell us how that experience came about and what you took away from it?
Yes, I did. It was incredible. I met him with my husband. My husband paints portraits of cultures that are being dominated by white society. We got an audience with HH to explain to him what my husband’s work is and what he does, especially because at that time he was painting and being inspired by Tibetan culture. It's hard to describe when you are in the presence of an enlightened being. For me, it was like a rush of love and an overwhelming feeling which came over me. I just started crying as soon as I saw him. I was so happy and in such awe of his presence. I had a similar experience when I was in the presence of Amma. You can feel when someone is of a beautiful, compassionate nature. You can feel their energy from a mile away. If we can all learn to live with love and compassion in our hearts, imagine what this world could be like.
Jess, we know that you are mum to your beautiful son Romeo. Tell us what a normal Monday looks like for you? How do you balance your business and home life?
Haha well Mondays are my workdays. I am lucky enough to have my mum look after Romeo. As for Tuesday (and every other day), it’s quite hard to be a mum and juggle a business. I really only have the 2 hours a day when he naps to get onto any work regarding my jewellery. However, I know he won’t be little for long and soon will be at kinder, then school, so I need to cherish these moments.
What have been the hardest obstacles you have had to overcome when starting your business?
Even though Instagram is an amazing platform to use for a business, the constant gifting you need to provide to influencers, takes a toll on the business. Especially being jewellery. The cost of metals (gold or silver) costs a lot. The production cost of handmade jewellery is expensive. So, I would say, keeping up the whole gifting strategy, really takes a toll on the business.
(Jess wearing cherrichella style WICKED)
Next travel destination?
Anywhere!! Been in lockdown for 5 months so once our borders open, I will be on a plane straight to Broome (fav place in Australia). As for OS, we had a big trip planned this year for Italy, Greece, and Ibiza. I guess I just want to re-book that exact same trip again. I also really want to get back to Sardinia.
What’s currently repeating on your playlist?
- The National (always)
- Ane Brun
- Cat Power
What are you binging on tv?
I am late to the party but, Stranger Things.
You live in Melbourne. What are some of your favourite local businesses which you support?
Yes, I grew up in Bulleen. My favourite locals are Mr Wolf + Co (fav kids clothes) and Chakra Face and Body. The staff there are divine, and you always feel so good walking in.
Favourite cherrichella style?
I absolutely love the Wicked Sandal. I love all the shoes, but I have always loved a mule. (Good choice Jess!)