“It’s indulgent really. After years of designing for other companies and experiencing a period of intense isolation, I wanted to create an edited range of luxury leather bracelets and chokers that was versatile and worked hard; that would elevate a simple jeans and tee look or add a sculptural luxe edge to a night out.”
- Karen James, Founder C.W. James
C.W. James is the creation of industrial designer Karen James. It blends Karen’s love of modernist industrial design with her experience designing accessories to create bold, wearable sculptures. It is named after Karen’s grandfather, a shoemaker from rural Jamaica, acknowledging her family’s humble history of making. Designed and assembled by hand in a small coastal town on Australia’s Great Ocean Road using luxury watchmaking techniques, the C.W. James collection is made from recycled solid sterling silver, solid brass and high quality leather straps.
From Concept to Creation, Karen describes the process of how C.W. James jewellery is designed and created
1. Thumbnail sketches of ideas that pop into my head. This is my starting point. I fill many sketch books with my scribbles. I do these sketches in the bath, before falling asleep, and at other unconventional and inappropriate moments.
2. The next step is to move on to what I call 3D sketching. I take the thumbnail sketches that I like the most and evolve the ideas using quick modelling methods like carving balsa wood or clay.
3. Next the 3D metal forms are finalised in wax. Using the ancient process of lost wax casting, a wax model is used to make a master so that a mould can be created to make multiples of the same part. At the same time, technical CAD drawings are being developed for the leather straps to ensure that straps and the metal parts fit together.
4. The metal parts cast from the mould are polished.
5. Colours are selected and materials, like vintage leather straps and Swarovski crystals, are sourced.
6. Each C.W. James piece is then assembled in my studio on Australia's Great Ocean Road.
7. So there it is. The finished C.W. James Selene choker