Goldsmith and gemologist Cassandra Goad has been adding sparkle and personality to London’s fine jewellery scene since 1985, taking raw ingredients – beautiful stones and precious metals – and crafting them into a menu of keep-forever jewels and travel-inspired trinkets from her Sloane Street studio and store. Her globe-spanning gem-hunting expeditions and passion for quality earned her a spot on our Smith Hotel Awards 2015 judging panel, to help spot dining diamonds in the rough among the Best Hotel Restaurant nominees.
What inspires you?
I have always loved beautiful things – from the flowers in my grandmother’s garden to the sparkles on my dresses as a bridesmaid. And the juxtaposition of colours in a garden is how I like to mix up the gemstones just back from the stone-cutter.
You’ve worked in Brazil, Scandinavia, Japan, China and India, among other places – where in the world takes your breath away?
In Beijing, China, the Temple of Heaven – I love John Blofeld’s description from City of Lingering Splendour: ‘Of all Peking’s enchanting sights, the beauty of the Altar of Heaven is the hardest to describe. Its sublime austerity is mocked by words. It is what it is – the most fitting architectural expression of man’s highest aspirations in the world.’ I also love the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, with their exotic Roberto Burle Marx pavements. I took this theme and made it into cuff bracelets in silver (below) and gold.
What’s on your mood board for 2016?
I’m always on the search for new inspirations. Key emotional trends for 2016 are elegance and luxury, which is about craftsmanship and time – ‘the greatest luxury of all is time’. Design is not only about ‘filling the space’; it is also about guarding the space. As Renzo Piano said to the mayor [when he was designing a new university at Amiens]: ‘Le luxe, Monsieur le Maire, c’est le vide.’
Who do you design for?
The woman who is not influenced by others; the independent woman who knows her own mind and trusts it and her decisions. She is timeless, ageless and effortless.
Your perfect weekend?
I love to be at home, wake early and take my basket out to my garden and pick flowers still covered in dew. When friends come to visit and need somewhere to stay nearby I often recommend Gravetye Manor with its beautiful gardens.
In India, I love to stay at the Raas hotel in Jodhpur run by my friend Nick Allan; from there, I can walk up to the Mehrangargh Fort and sketch designs.
Dish it: favourite restaurants?
I like my food to be unusual, beautifully presented, and colourful. For lunch, La Grenouillère at Montreuil in Northern France is special – it’s in the middle of nowhere and with the most divine cooking imaginable by Alexandre Gauthier.
Or SaQuaNa in Honfleur in Normandy – Alexandre and his wife created a small restaurant here after living abroad and have made a restaurant with a truly unique experience. The presentation and subtlety of the cooking often leaves you lost for words as you savour textures and the visual feast on your plate.
My South American cousins recommended Lima in London for my birthday. This is a real find – small and uncomplicated, Lima serves food that reminds me of my trips to Peru not just in the taste but the chef (Robert Ortiz) creates the most explosive colour combinations, sometimes as exciting as the colours in a market in Cusco.
Where’s next on your travel wish-list?
My next collection is based on a top-secret location, but I’ve code-named it ‘Barbados’ . I can’t tell you yet just where else I am going, but it is very exciting and the jewels will be incredible!
What do you love most about home?
I live in the countryside surrounded by an endlessly changing landscape of flora and fauna. I love watching the seasons play their roundabout every year! Their inventiveness intrigues me.
I never leave home without…
…my camera; my notebook; my jewels (a Severine ring with mint tourmaline (above); my four-leaf Klover pendant)… and a bunch of flowers (if I am staying somewhere for more than a day).
Always come home with…
…some wonderful gemstones to transform into jewels.
First thing you check out when you check into a hotel?
The flowers – I’m obsessed.
Any hotel hates?
Checking in: I love ‘invisible’ personal service.
Cassandra Goad is offering Smith members a free engraving on their first purchase (either a date or initials). Click here to view the range available, and once you have selected your piece, visit the Smith members’ hub to find your exclusive offer code.