Creating exquisite jewellery is Mary Wall's passion and her work is exceptional. "I love working with people, all my artistic flair has gone into creating these pieces. Getting to know a client, what suits them, finding a piece that reflects their character in a meaningful way, accentuating their individuality - that's so important to me." Mary's designs are more than just a fashion item to buy off the shelf, they are cleverly sculpted small pieces of art. Something to wear every day but so beautifully hand crafted they become heirloom items you can pass down to your grandchildren. A self described jewellery designer, Mary has been creating beautiful jewellery for 30 years now and enthusiastically embraces all aspects of her design work. "My business style is warm, friendly approachable and fun, adornment is not just about fashion, it's an expression of who you are, a celebration of your own unique style.....no apologies!" I like Mary's personality and direct approach right from the outset, there's a depth and purpose to her design that shines through as we talk.

So how did this creative journey begin? With a degree in fashion and textile design at Nottingham in the UK where Mary grew up. "I started with the degree and during that time migrated towards jewellery making when a component of the course was to make a jewellery sculpture". Fascinated by the textures and having the skill to design and create, she set up a workshop/showroom in Worcestershire which she describes as a great success - soon establishing a reputation for her designer collections she became busy with walk in customers, commission pieces, weddings, and even did some work for the BBC. "It was challenging! One commission was for a detective show, the brief to make a large pendant which needed to be a cross between a man and a dog!" Rising to the challenge is clearly no hard task for this innovative lady who is keen to provide what her clients need, whatever form or design that takes. There were commissions for bridal parties, pieces custom made to suit each weddings individual theme - tiaras, jewels, bracelets, rings, cufflinks for the guys. There were some more unusual requests as well, like a commission necklace for a client with a tracheostomy scar, designed to cover this discreetly, "I also remember a gentleman who wanted a lucky charm, a fly made in silver to carry around in his pocket". Anything is possible and it's clear Mary will go the extra mile to find what suits and complements her clients needs.


    With the UK workshop humming along, at around age 28 Mary got the urge to travel. I asked what inspired her? "It was winter at the time, raining and cold, I wanted to go somewhere warm so chose India, my Mother suggested Australia but I was drawn to India so off I went! Everything about India was fascinating" she glows while reminiscing "It's such a different way of life, art is ingrained in every aspect of the culture, you see textures and gentle flowing patterns all around you, everywhere you go, in the architecture, textiles, imagery, colours, the way people adorn themselves, henna hand painting......there's so much exuberance and vibrancy around you." Mary tells me how she soaked it all in, not even thinking about her jewellery design while there, instead focusing on each moment, each experience, drawing inspiration from total cultural immersion.

    It was in India where Mary met her husband, Martinborough local Jonty Wall when they went on the same adventure overland trip. Getting to know each other over a couple of months, "we had exciting shared adventures and a few moments of danger when we had to look out for each other." Mary reminisces "we grew closer, and certainly had some crazy stories to tell afterwards!" With a mutual passion for travel they embarked on a semi-nomadic lifestyle, working in England then travelling overseas each winter, covering many continents. India, Africa and Europe being firm favourites they embraced the culture in every way they could. "We would work really hard for the majority of the year, then set off on our travels. We got right amongst the local culture, roughing it really!" Mary explains how they would sleep in tents or backpackers, then eat at a palace for lunch, or spend the afternoon at a luxury hotel to take in the atmosphere." It was a culture of extreme contrasts, they enjoyed getting right into the lifestyle, going to markets, buying street food, chatting with locals, finding out how they lived, taking it all in..."experiencing the real life" as Mary puts it.

    "I remember once buying street food in Morocco" she smiles "a boiled egg with a piece of bread, then we sat down right beside a group of tour hawkers, they looked at us and said....what are you doing? We replied, just having lunch!" Unlike the more timid traveller they were not afraid to go off the beaten track. The theme of their travel was to live like locals, "you get to know people in their natural environment, people all over the world have different outlooks on life, a varying sense of humour, you soon figure them out." I'm beginning to see how this clever lady has such a feel for what makes people tick.


    Mary says the creative inspiration she developed during 7 years traveling continues to influence her design style now. It shows when you see her collections, elephants and gentle curves with fluid, flowing patterns, all feature strongly, a reflection of Indian culture. Mary's work also expresses a natural earthiness - every piece tells a story, there is not one theme but a variation of styles, ethnic, tribal, contemporary, medieval. After each adventure, on returning to the England workshop she would create, "the designs just came to me and it flowed from there" says Mary.

    Marrying in 1993 Mary and Jonty continued to travel, but had a shift of lifestyle when their daughter Natasha was born four years later. "We couldn't travel in the same way with a baby, so it was time to literally settle down," Mary admits it was a huge change, "we were having so much fun travelling, I didn't want to stop!" When Natasha was two, they made the move to New Zealand and the family farm in Martinborough. "Distance wise, I didn't appreciate how far away New Zealand is, travelling from England to Europe, was not a long trip in comparison". But with time, and the arrival of younger daughter Melissa, she has embraced the new phase of her life with natural enthusiasm.

    Thoroughly enjoying raising her children Mary has continued to create while embracing the role of stay at home Mum, and integrating her jewellery design into family life. "I've kept creating but more in the background as the girls grew up." Now they are older she is starting to produce more designs, still inspired by life experiences from the travelling years. It's clear her style is always evolving and she works within themes to create unique collections. "I'll start with a theme then work through a style until I get a design I'm happy with." There are several workstations placed strategically around the home, Mary says she likes to work while interacting with family life going on around her.


    "I work with semi-precious stones - garnets, turquoise, lapis lazuli, labradorite. Each piece has to be practicable and comfortable to wear as well as appealing to the eye." Mary describes the influence of elaborate tribal designs, which inspire her - while modifying this theme to be more practical for everyday life "I like to look at what's happened in the past, then use some of the elements to create modern simpler designs. Jewellery creates a theme, invokes an era, reflects a personality, it's how you celebrate who you are."

    Drawing inspiration from nature, the materials are raw, earthy....sterling silver is the main media, with some gold used as well as antique washes - layering gold on silver is a theme she is currently working on, with stunning results As she shows me her collections I marvel at the silver rings with golden seahorse and heart shaped embellishments – these are quite beautiful, tactile, strong but delicate pieces. Trying them on for size I noticed the fine detail – small silver balls delicately placed as the seahorse's eye, I'm fascinated, Each item unique and all tell a story. I'm drawn to certain pieces. There is a range of collections to choose from, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, rings, beautiful brooches, cleverly designed hairclips, I'm beginning to see how each piece draws a certain personality style - trying on a few for size while chatting to Mary, I tell her how I'm fascinated by historical period dramas, Edwardian styles, the concept of meaningful adornment within those eras. I touch an elaborately inscribed ring, featuring a garnet and pointed tip. Trying it on Mary says "that's you, see how it elongates your hand?, she's right, it looks and feels perfect, I've always loved garnets....she's perceptive.


    A life filled with fun, adventure, creativity, beauty and designs that express all this - is my impression of Mary Wall. It's has been an incredible experience getting to know the woman behind the designs. I'm feeling inspired to travel, create, collaborate, I've discovered adornment is not just about wearing an item of jewellery, but something much deeper, a celebration of your unique style, showing the world who you are, expressing a mood or moment, embracing the real you......and by wearing Mary's tiny pieces of art this is so easy to do.

    Contact Mary on 027 207 9027 for private viewing of her collections.
    Click this link for Mary's facebook page Mary Wall Jewellery

    Marys jewellery is also available from Sharona Craig and at "In Ore" Kuripuni

    Scroll down for some of Mary's beautiful pieces

    Exquisite Silver with Garnet and intricate swirls - this ring chose me!

    Sterling Silver Rings with Fish and Hearts

    Sterling Silver Ring with Amber

    Labradorite and Sterling Silver Elephant Pendant

    Unique and Beautiful- Sterling Silver Rings with Aquamarine & Lolite (middle)

    Trish Higginson & Karina Hailwood - Creative Directors Martinborough Village
    "Let us show you the magic of our town"

    Photos Simon Murcott
    Mary Wall
    Trish Higginson
    enquiries to karina@martinborough-village.co.nz
    Copyright MV 2016


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