Dancing with Diamonds
Writer Amanda Christmann // Photography Courtesy of Willow Diamonds
The art of dance is intrinsically alluring. The graceful movements often defy our notions of what the human body can and cannot do, and every act tells a story that can be exciting, provocative and magical.
Jacquie Earle was born a dancer, and whether she’s been performing on stage or working at a jeweler’s bench, she has a knack for bringing fluidity and movement to all she does.
Her piece de resistance is her stunning diamond collection, Willow Diamonds. Her designs stand out among a crowd of jewelry designers eager to make their mark. Her diamonds do more than shine; they float as if they are in concert, their fire and brilliance dancing in perpetual motion.
In a method that honors the beauty of the stones while embracing modern technology, she uses a laser to pierce each diamond, then joins them using platinum wires and 18K gold.
The result is exceptional. Strung rather than set, her pear, marquise, princess and round-shaped diamonds seem to float in mid-air, their brilliance catching light from all sides. It is as if, through their freedom, they take on a life of their own—which is exactly what Earle intends.
“Free of traditional mounts, the diamonds move and glow and sparkle with more fire land and light,” she explained. “The diamond looks bigger, and the setting frees the light and fire. It comes alive—it becomes very flirty and very beautiful.
“The look is characteristically feminine, yet flirty, modern and fluid. They are designed to be wearable and, most importantly, enjoyed for many generations.”
Not just any diamond is suitable for Willow Diamonds. Earle is discriminate about which stones she chooses for her earrings, pendants, and other stunning jewelry, choosing only the most flawless, fiery gems.
“The beauty of a diamond is the fire, the light and the color of the diamond. I want my diamonds to sparkle, and if you love diamonds, set them free.”
Evolution of an Artist
Earle’s imaginative designs seem to be an extension of her inner self. Her early aspirations were to dance, and she even taught ballet for a while before transitioning into textile designs.
“I guess it helps explain my proclivity towards aesthetics that are fluid, graceful, and in harmony with today’s dynamic spontaneous lifestyle,” she said.
While she was designing fabrics, a friend nudged her toward jewelry, and as she experimented with stones and chains, she found a form of expression that she connected with on a deeper level.
“I loved how gratifying and limber jewelry-making is compared to making fabrics,” she said. “Jewelry endures and carries sentimental value. It continues to build provenance over time unlike, say, a swimming suit,” she said.
“As a former ballet dancer, I am intrigued with the connection of the body and brain with mobility and healing. Therefore, for me, jewelry is dynamic. I look at jewelry from all perspectives because that is how it is viewed when worn.
“Even while sitting still, the body breathes and light and air is in perpetual motion around you.”
Within a few years, she left textiles for good and launched her own design company.
“Initially, the brand was ‘Willow Bark’ after the willow bark tree, which is derived from the white willow tree and known as ‘nature’s aspirin,’” she explained. “I guess you could say I felt in need of a pain reliever to ease my exit from the textile industry.”
The designs would resonate, but the name underwent a slight change.
“Few people could remember the ‘-Bark,’ and so the name was simply abbreviated to ‘Willow.’ To this day, customers remark on how befitting ‘Willow’ describes the fluid, feminine soft lines of my designs. It was one of those meant-to-be iconic moments in life.
“When I developed my first diamond collection over 12 years ago, it seemed natural to name it ‘Willow Diamonds,’ and now it is its own brand.
“My jewelry is made by hand, so there’s a lot of touch and feel to my work. It’s largely dependent on the materials and quality you use.”
Earle has remained committed to designing and producing her jewelry in the U.S., not only because she gets to infuse her avant-garde imagination, but also so that she can exercise strict quality control on every piece sold with the hallmark Willow Diamonds logo.
“Our quality both in materials and craftsmanship is simply uncompromising,” she said proudly. “We alloy our own gold responsibly. And diamond grading, testing and detection is a serious focus of our quality control.”
“Choosing jewelry is so personal and so emotional. It’s really about relationships,” Earle said. “For me, it’s about creating it and having that jewelry eventually finding the proper home.
“It’s an emotional attachment that people have to jewelry. I do custom work in addition to my line, and I work with a lot of people to refurbish heirloom jewelry for their children or their grandkids.
“Jewelry is the most poignant gift you can give because it’s a gift coming from you. I discourage people from trying to be mind-readers because I want the gift to be from them. I tell them to embrace the fact that they’re giving a very precious sentimental piece.”
Earle recognizes that she has a distinct style that women of all ages identify with. Locally, they’ve captivated women looking for a more contemporary take on diamonds at Carefree’s Grace Renee Gallery.
“It’s interesting how many designers are inspired by similar things, and yet our individual takeaway is often so different.
“I think of jewelry as a personal statement, and it always surprises and amazes me how the same piece on different people or in different circumstances or dress can look so—different.
“I envision the customer, and I imagine the piece being worn in daily life or for a special occasion. I work to bring the materials to life and highlight their natural characteristics—the fire and light of a diamond—in what is hopefully the perfect piece that portrays and satisfies the customer.”
It isn’t the process so much as the feel that attracts women to Willow Diamonds.
“You may not know how to cook, but you can taste and feel the special nuances of a wonderful well-prepared dish. Similarly, in jewelry the materials, quality and craftsmanship present themselves like an open book: the fire and color of a brilliant diamond, the luster of a pearl or the softness of 18K rose gold.”
Though her diamonds are graceful and exquisite, they are also created to be enjoyed.
“In today’s fast-moving world, people are busy. Fashion has become more practical and suited to a more active lifestyle,” said Earle.
“Some customers describe my pieces as yoga jewelry — feminine, fluid, and wearable that lives with you. One customer prefers to describe my pieces as tennis jewelry as she wears our Streamer diamond earrings playing tennis every day and never takes them off.
“I get a lot of photos of happy customers. That’s the fun of it—working and getting to know the customers.
“I love creating jewelry that comes alive when you put it on.”
See Diamonds Dance!
Dec. 6, 7 | Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Wine and appetizers 4–8 p.m. | Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. | Grace Renee Gallery
Historic Spanish Village | 7212 E. Ho Hum Rd., Carefree | 480-575-8080 | gracereneegallery.com