By Åse Anderson
What do you get if you cross glamorous, sun-drenched Los Angeles with the romantic European cities of Paris and Rome? If the Liv Ballard Collection is anything to go by, the answer is bold and innovative, one-off fine jewellery.
Proving that it's never too late to follow your dreams, Liv Ballard decided to pursue a career in jewellery design after several years of working in TV and raising her two sons in California. With the launch of her eponymous fine jewellery collection in 2007, Liv's chosen university subjects of art and romantic languages finally made sense. She says: "Is there a more romantic language than jewellery? I do marvel that, as I produce my jewellery in Italy, the language and art connection finally makes perfect sense."
The inspiration for the Liv Ballard Collection comes from a multitude of sources, ranging from books, art and architecture, to film and travel. "I fold a multitude of images into my own collection of ideas - something that I find engaging eventually winds its way into my work. But sometimes inspiration can be as simple as discovering an exquisite stone."
Wanderlust is the overriding theme in Liv's work, and many of her signature pieces feature globes, maps and armillary spheres. Celestial bodies, stars and suns are also recurring motifs, while mobility adds another layer of interest - a globe pendant that spins on its axis, or two rings connected by a delicate gold chain, allowing the wearer to interact with the piece in a unique way. The sapphire and diamond mermaid is one of Liv's favourite new pieces as it is such a departure from her usual work. She says: "She's a sensual creature and holds a lot of symbolic meaning for me."
The Liv Ballard Collection is crafted from 18ct gold set with precious stones, including white diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. Liv says her favourite gems to work with are emeralds and Paraiba tourmalines: "Limpid pools of colour pull me in." Liv now splits her time between LA, Paris and Rome, where her jewels are made. These magical cities are also a huge source of inspiration for the designer: "Obviously Los Angeles is synonymous with Hollywood glamour, but we also enjoy a dynamic art scene. Paris is sophisticated, composed and chic, while Rome is sumptuous and soulful, ancient but vibrantly alive."
The Liv Ballard Collection is sold through luxury boutique Maxfield in LA, as well as 1stdibs.com and Liv's own website. She counts royalty and rock stars among her loyal client base, and says the women she would most like to see wearing her jewels are former Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld, singer Beyoncé and actress Julianne Moore.
Going forward, Liv plans to increase her number of stockists and, luckily for us, she has set her sights on London as the next retail destination. She would also like to increase her bespoke jewellery design, saying: "I love working with clients who want something absolutely unique - I enjoy collaboration."