For Sarah-Jane Clarke, “fashion is in the blood. But jewellery is a new language. I am learning every day.”
Clarke was one-half of sass and bide. With former business partner Heidi Middleton, the duo changed Australian fashion forever, bringing edge to denim like never before. That business was sold to Myer in two transactions (the first in 2011, with the final sale taking place two years later), and now Clarke is living a far quieter life.
But her love of fashion has never abated, only evolved. She now designs under her own name, and has launched a small range of jewellery to accompany her ready-to-wear pieces. Inspired by her love of travel, the collection is a bridge between demi-fine jewellery and fashion pieces. In other words, says Clarke, “swim in it, pack it in your luggage, have fun with it”.
“The concept came to me when I was travelling,” she says. “I always pick up charms, they become the ways to tell the story of that trip. They represent places you’ve been and a moment in time.”
The range, currently just six pieces, features three charms, a necklace, an anklet and a pair of earrings. Each charm is connected to travel: there is one stamped with the word “hodophile”, for example, which means “lover of roads”, and another with “yoko meshi”, a Japanese term that translates literally to “a meal eaten sideways”. “It’s about the wonderful discomfort of travel,” she says. “Like when you are a little bit lost, or you can’t understand someone in a restaurant.”
Clarke has not trained as a jeweller and hastens to add that neither was she a trained fashion designer. “If you know what you love, you can surround yourself with experts who can hold your hand through the process,” she says. Clarke is working with an established jeweller and is learning “this new language every day”.
More jewellery is on the way, though Clarke is resistant to the idea of too much, being a minimalist herself at heart.
“I don’t wear a lot of jewellery,” she says. “But what I do wear, I want it to have some meaning, some sentiment. I like collecting little reminders and forget-me-nots of places I’ve been, things I’ve seen. I just love being on the move.”