India Hicks lives on a tiny, sun-drenched island in the Bahamas. This lifestyle has both inspired her jewellery and helped her find her own voice in the world of design.
by Janine Druery
With an innate sense of style, a background in fashion, and a family lineage that includes revered artistic types, India Hicks would likely do well at any creative endeavour she put her mind to.
So, it’s no surprise she has succeeded in a myriad of ventures – from fashion model to photographer to TV host to interior decorator. Hicks, the daughter of renowned interior designer David Nightingale Hicks and Lady Pamela Mountbatten, grew up in a world of celebrity and nobility. And with a turn as a bridesmaid to Lady Diana, and a career as a model for the likes of Emilio Pucci and Ralph Lauren, she has had experiences most of us only see on lifestyle television.
But since moving to the Bahamas 17 years ago, the London-born beauty has adopted a laid-back lifestyle. And career-wise she has been making a name for herself in the world of design – with jewellery as her most recent endeavour.
“It was pure coincidence,” she muses of her foray into the business three years ago. “A set of happy circumstances led me to my partner SDC Designs.” An immediate connection to her jewellery partner and a desire to do something different quickly got the ball rolling.
“As with designing any collection, someone says ‘Tell your story’ and it is quite intimidating,” says Hicks. “I am in no way a trained jeweller or gemologist. I was completely blind in this, but I had a very strong vision of what I wanted to say.”
Thus her first collection called ‘Island Life’ was created – a collection borne out her life on Harbour Island in the Bahamas, where she lives with her partner and five children.
“We started with ‘Island Life’ because for 17 years I’ve lived on this very small island and we felt that was the strong message I have and I felt very proud that it was my life – I wasn’t the daughter of someone or granddaughter of someone.”
The collection was inspired by her everyday reality – the colours and textures of the island, the sounds of the waves on the shore, elements of nature such as sand and coral.
“I am surrounded by nature,” notes Hicks. “It is ever-changing, and its very interesting. And it does all of the work for me. I sit back and just see what nature has done this week.”
Hicks describes this collection as very organic – “you’ll see palm fronds, occasional starfish – all sterling silver and diamonds because the price of gold was astronomical at the time.”
She says she initially worried what people wanted to see in her collections, before deciding the person she really needed to please was herself.
“You go to all of these trade shows and you are overwhelmed by all of the choice. In the end I just said ‘this is ridiculous, I am going to choose what I want.’ And in way of design, I have stopped worrying what everybody else likes. You have to just say ‘I like this. I’m going to wear this.’”
A FATHER’S INFLUENCE
Her second jewellery collection took a different turn and was – in large part – influenced by her famous father.
“Although I once said, ‘No, no, no, I’m not influenced by my father,’ I am completely influenced by my father,” says Hicks. “Although I’m not as bold as my father and I’m not as confident as my father who always wanted to make a very loud statement. And I’m not as keen to live in rooms of bright pink and shocking red and puce purples.”
It was when Hicks moved to the Bahamas and started a life there that she realized “in a quiet way I could have a voice. It was very hard to find my own way and now I’m quite confident in the world of design. I’ve come to the point where I do think I have a point of view.”
She named her second collection ‘Hicks on Hicks’, a silver, architecturally-inspired collection she describes as “masculine.” This collection, which features bold, stand-out pieces such as cuffs, statement rings and medallions, uses her father’s famous geometrics and hexagon patterns as the primary design element.
“It was as though they had been virtually designed for jewellery,” says Hicks. “So we couldn’t resist.”
Her third collection was dubbed ‘Love Letters’. Inspired by her father’s own “logo” (a simple and chic, yet strong statement of four H’s joined in a cross) Hicks created an entire silver alphabet in kind, calling the collection ‘Love Letters’ as an actual love letter to her father.
She calls this collection her “most sophisticated”, and it was so well received that it landed her single diamond letter charm made it to ‘Oprah’s Favourite Things’ list.
Hicks’ latest collection, launched at JCK in Las Vegas, is her first gold collection. It consists of smaller, delicate gold and diamond pieces from her ‘Island Living’ collection: palm fronds, fish tails, moon phases, and bows and arrows.
“This time I said let’s do gold and we did it in a completely different way,” she notes. “They are all fine and tiny little pieces. Same story, different design.”
So with all of her different collections, which piece does she favour? “I wear an ‘N’ around my neck [from Love Letters], which stands for ‘nobody,’” she laughs. Because she has five children, she thought that would be easier than wearing five different charms.
Hicks calls her collections – and her company – “organic and ever-changing.” And it is something that, despite all her other endeavours, she is excited about pursuing.
“The jewellery world has infinite possibilities,” says Hicks. “I think that it’s a lovely business in the fact that you can discover unknown names making jewellery at home and find just beautiful, unique points of view. And then you can find a David Yurman who appeals to a much broader market.”
She says she doesn’t know what her next creative endeavour will be. But whether it’s her jewellery, her home goods or something brand new, it’s bound to be as free-spirited and creative as the designer herself.
“The design world as a whole is something I do feel passionate about,” says Hicks. “I grew up with it, it’s in my DNA, it’s somewhere where I feel confident.” CJ