Meet the Harper's Bazaar US editor behind jewellery's coolest new label
As a former contributor to Vogue, Interview Magazine, T Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Elle in NYC, it's fair to say that New Zealand-born Olivia Fleming has developed an eye for beautiful things. Currently Senior Digital Features Editor at HarpersBazaar.com, Fleming moonlights as designer for her considered jewellery label Olivia Kane, armed with the prowess of someone that studies the market for her vocation.
The label's delicate pieces have already caught the eye of some of the style set's most discerning, not bad for a label that's less than two years old. Here, she speaks to Buro on inspiration, individuality and the intrigue of the right stone.
What was the first thing you remember creating as a child?
A mess, probably.
What was the lightbulb moment that lead to you starting Olivia Kane?
The lightbulb moment actually came from someone else. I had spent years complaining that I couldn't find a nice mood ring, one that wasn't made from plastic or brass, (I hate when jewelry turns your skin green). Eventually someone told me to stop complaining and make it myself. I knew the then jewelry manager of New York boutique In God We Trust, so I bought her a beer and asked her to tell me everything she knew about making and producing jewelry. She pointed me in the right direction, and a year later, I launched!
Do you feel that your designs draw on an Antipodean aesthetic?
The O.K aesthetic is clean and minimal, yet natural and earthy; which sums up home for me. I'm drawn to no-fuss design; minimal make-up, easy white T-shirts and jeans always worn with a statement shoe. This is how I see my jewelry: classic, leaving room for one element to shine-for us, this is our stones.
When do you feel the most inspired?
When I'm outside, in nature. Living in New York is exhausting. The constant honking of cars, piercing sirens, construction on concrete buildings, smelly trash on the sidewalk, full-to-the-brim subway cars. Everyone always in a rush. I leave every weekend, to the beach or upstate, so I can reset and breathe, ready to come back into the city full of new ideas and excitement.
What do you believe sets Olivia Kane apart from other jewellery labels?
Each piece is handmade, each stone is handpicked and unique. We use sustainable recycled 14k gold and sterling silver; each piece is made to be durable, despite their delicate design. I like to say I make fine jewelry that can be worn to the beach, camping, on adventures. These are special pieces that become an extension of you.
How do you see your collection being worn?
Everyday with anything. I wear my pieces on hikes and to galas. They can be dressed up and down, stacked, worn all at once or worn as just one piece. They don't overwhelm when worn together, yet one piece can stand on its own proudly.
How did you fascination with stones and mood rings begin?
First, [1991 film] My Girl. Second, the color-changing stones. Since starting the label in 2015 with a small collection of mood rings, I realized what I was actually drawn to was the idea of interesting-looking stones. I'm obsessed with unique and rare stones. I spend hours and sometimes weeks searching for unusual inclusions in semi-precious and precious gemstones-something many people see as imperfections I see as one-of-a-kind character. When I'm on a gem-buying trip, my heart literally stops for half a beat when I see a stone I love-and I only choose stones that give me that kind of visceral reaction.
Where are your pieces made?
Quality and sustainability have always been the two most important things to me. Our packaging is made from recycled materials, and the leather pouches each ring comes in is made from discarded off-cuts. I use 14k recycled gold, and my stones are natural and ethically mined. Each piece is handmade in New York. Specialists in New York's jewelry district also play a huge role. I have some of the world's most skilled stone polishers, setters and casters working on O.K pieces at any given moment in Manhattan's jewelry district.
Who is the Olivia Kane woman?
I like to think she's like me: she cherishes her individuality, has a predilection for pretty and delicate things, and appreciates the intimacy of handmade, unique pieces.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
I'm currently reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which she wrote a year before I was born. It's exceptionally depressing but beautifully written, and it inspires you to push forward on everything you believe in when it comes to social politics. On the way to work I often listen to podcasts. I just finished S-Town. I love Radio Lab and This American Life, a constant stream of fascination and inspiration. And I'm watching the West Wing at moment-it's a cathartic portal into a fantasy world of politics when every day you're faced with the reality of Donald Trump.
The one thing I do love about living in New York is the access to art galleries and museums. I'm my happiest when I decide to pop into the Whitney at 8pm on a Saturday night to see the latest Biennial exhibition, or my ability to swing by the Met at lunch to see the new Irving Penn exhibition, or being able to spend three hours on a Sunday at the Brooklyn Museum's latest Georgia O'Keefe exhibition. It is in those moments that I truly cherish where I live.
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