Jewellery designer Sara Prentice on Grace Coddington, the medieval towers of San Gimignano and upcycled furniture
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My personal style signifier is my single-stone diamond pendant. I won the stone in a jewellery design competition in my first job at Cartier and set it myself. I recently adapted it to the Garrard style with a diamond-and-dot motif, so it now represents my past and present. garrard.com
The last thing I bought and loved was an upcycled console table from Country Furniture Barn, made from the 2m-long tailgate of a vintage truck. It’s retro, cool and unique. countryfurniturebarn.co.uk
And the thing I’m eyeing next is a cast-iron Mon Empire freestanding bath with no feet. We are slowly renovating our house – an old barn near Maidstone, which is about 200 years old – combining modern and traditional design, and the bathrooms are my next project. From £2,395; hurlinghambaths.co.uk
The last items of clothing I added to my wardrobe were Levi’s Slimming Skinny jeans. Being 6ft tall, finding jeans long enough to fit – and fit well – is truly challenging, so I have stockpiled six pairs of these in case they are discontinued. £85; levi.com
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Henrik Immanuel Wigström – specifically the beautiful and highly detailed standalone animal carvings made of hardstones such as chalcedony and jasper. They featured on his work at Fabergé, where he was one of two main workmasters at the turn of the 20th century. I particularly like the agate pigs.
The best gift I’ve received recently is a pair of black Mulberry biker boots from the autumn/winter collection that my husband, Lance, gave me to replace the Tommy Hilfiger wellington boots that he jet-washed, removing all the lacquer. I was really quite cross about it. mulberry.com
The beauty staple I’m never without is a Mac eyebrow pencil in Lingering. It’s fine enough to use to draw hairline strokes, but also adds fullness – and it lasts the day. £15.50; maccosmetics.co.uk
The best book I’ve read in the past year is I See You by Clare Mackintosh. It’s about a stalker on the London Underground following people who commute along the same route every day. In our business we always have to be incredibly security conscious, which is I think why I related to it.
If I didn’t live near London, the city I would live in is Paris, where I spent six months when I started working at Cartier, aged 22. I love the buzzing vibe at Relais de l’Entrecôte, which has a very small menu, and the creamy sauce accompanying the steak is divine – the recipe is a closely guarded secret, but I think it has tarragon in it. I love visiting the Musée d’Orsay for art; the Sacré-Coeur for the beauty and for the surrounding markets; and Zut!, an interiors store that specialises in repurposed industrial objects, such as mine carts reborn as coffee tables. Musée d’Orsay, 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 (musee-orsay.fr). Relais de l’Entrecôte, 15 Rue Marbeuf, 75008 (relaisentrecote.fr). Sacré-Coeur, 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 (sacre-coeur-montmartre.com). Zut!, 9 Rue Ravignan, 75018 (antiquites-industrielles.com)
The site that inspires me is the seafront at Whitstable, where it’s calm and breezy. I go there early in the morning to clear my head before starting work on a new collection. The process of designing an entire collection takes about three months from conception to being ready to go to the workshop in Bond Street – but it all starts with a long walk.
The last meal that truly impressed me was one I made myself for 50 guests. I made four versions – meat, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian varieties – of Nigella Lawson’s beef and aubergine fatteh. I was pretty happy that every plate was cleaned.
My favourite websites and apps are Vinterior.co for vintage upcycled furniture, and Pinterest.co.uk for home decorating. I also find it a great source of inspiration for work, and I save images of hand poses, because we are always looking for new ways to display jewellery.
My style icon is Grace Coddington. She once explained that she favours the colour black because she thinks of it as a clean palette, and I’m the same. Wearing black gives me a sense of calm and a clear head, allowing me to creatively focus on my design work.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is San Gimignano in Tuscany, where three families (14 of us) stayed in three adjoining old farmhouses with a view across the skyline of medieval towers.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a pebble from Estepona in Spain. I dislike clutter, so I don’t tend to bring much back from my travels, but when I go on holiday with a group of friends every year – six or more of us go, and always somewhere different – we all take a pebble from the beach and I write on each of them the location and year.
A recent “find” is the Hook & Hatchet pub at Hucking, near Maidstone in Kent, which my husband and I stumbled upon while walking our new puppy. It has recently been refurbished as a proper old-school country pub and has become a firm favourite for Sunday lunch. I always have the lamb, which is farmed locally. Plus, it’s dog friendly. Church Rd, Hucking, Kent (hookandhatchetpub.co.uk).
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the King’s Road in London. Rabbit is a quirky restaurant that only uses sustainable ingredients and has wines from the family farm in West Sussex. We eat there before going to the Chelsea Flower Show each year. I like the mix of fashion, homewares and beauty at Anthropologie, but I also love going in because it’s in the beautiful Antiquarius building – a 1920s former billiards hall that houses some original features such as plate-glass windows and intricate ironwork. And the Neal’s Yard Remedies shop, where I buy Wild Rose Beauty Balm, is an oasis of tranquillity and calm. Anthropologie, 131-141 King’s Rd, SW3 (anthropologie.com). Chelsea Flower Show, rhs.org.uk. Neal’s Yard Remedies, 124B King’s Rd, SW3 (nealsyardremedies.com); Wild Rose Beauty Balm, £40 for 50g. Rabbit, 172 King’s Road, SW3 (rabbit-restaurant.com).
The last music I bought was a long time ago. I haven’t bought any music for years; my daughter is really into The Weeknd, so we have to listen to a lot of that.
An indulgence I would never forgo is my eyelash extensions. After chemotherapy for breast cancer, my eyelashes only grew back slightly – now I feel naked without the extensions I have every weekend at a local salon, Daisy Chain. From £66.50; 377 Maidstone Road, Gillingham, Kent ME8 0HX (thedaisychainhairandbeauty.co.uk)
The best gift I’ve given recently was Teddy the beagle, a gift to the family – although I think he was as much for me as for my children, as they are now 16 and 20.
My favourite room in my house is the kitchen, the hub of our family. It’s a cosy room with exposed brickwork and huge wooden beams, and we recently painted the units a warm matte grey that I love. Farrow & Ball Purbeck Stone paint, £45 for 2.5 litres; farrow-ball.com
The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are my wonderful hairdresser Carly Radford, who comes to my house – she was my angel when I was going through chemotherapy, cutting and styling my wigs beautifully; and Matt Grimshaw, my personal trainer. Matt is very considerate of my limitations but able to give me routines that work – and I’ve found a new love for exercise. Carly Radford, firstname.lastname@example.org. Matt Grimshaw, 07392-019 812; email@example.com
In my fridge you’ll always find avocados, coriander and fresh chillies to make homemade guacamole, Robertson’s shredded marmalade, strong mature cheddar, a bottle of Chablis and big green olives.
An object I would never part with is my wedding DVD. It contains images of family and friends who are no longer with us, so it becomes more precious as the years go by.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an interior designer. Last year, I redesigned the House of Garrard flagship boutique. I loved the opportunity to be creative on a larger scale as well as designing jewellery.
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