Judith Peterhoff is a London-based jeweller who explores the beauty of imperfection. Working for some of London’s top jewellers, Judith studied jewellery design at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Maastricht (MAFAD) in the Netherlands. Known for her exceptional workmanship and artistry, she launched her highly collectible eponymous jewellery brand in 2017. We caught up with Judith to talk about motherhood, her inspirations, being part of the Cockpit Arts community and the importance of sustainability.
Firstly, congratulations on your first baby! We were so excited when we found out you were expecting but it must have been worrying with the pandemic. We’ve also noticed that you’re back at work after just a few weeks off. How have you found the early days of motherhood and balancing work?
Thank you ladies! It’s been quite a whirlwind of emotions in the last six weeks. During my pregnancy I’ve had a lot of time to think about being a mum and running my own business. How to deal with the juggle. The setbacks of the pandemic have given me the opportunity to think about what’s really important to me. I realised that I have to keep my business going and that it probably won’t be feasible to take 9 months off completely. Especially with Christmas so close to my due date I knew I had to jump back into work to a certain degree quite quickly. I have however set myself the rule to solely concentrate on my little one in the first six weeks and then use my 10 keeping in touch days to participate in the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair Online and our Cockpit Arts Makers Market. I’m envisioning working while he’s asleep in the sling. We shall see how it works when more Christmas orders come in.
Your pieces are known for celebrating perceived imperfections. Have you always been interested in this as a concept?
When I studied jewellery design in Maastricht we were always encouraged to take our inspiration from anywhere. I’ve always had an interest in medicine and the body. When my niece was born with a port-wine stain on her hand and my brother was considering to get it surgically removed I immediately had an idea for a jewellery collection. I wondered why would you want to remove something that makes her special and unique? It all evolved from there. I constantly question the need for perfection and how perceived imperfections in the body and our surroundings can be beautiful as well.
Jewellery making was a childhood hobby of yours, and you initially studied architecture. Can you tell us about the moment when you decided to focus on jewellery?
During my year of studying architecture I experienced a personal loss in the family that taught me that life is too short to not go for your dreams. I enjoyed studying architecture but not enough to be truly brilliant at it. I loved working on small scales but I wanted to see the finished product quicker than just in a model. Creating Jewellery has always been my passion so I decided to switch courses and give my dream a shot. 15 years later, I’m living the dream having my own practice.
How has your style evolved since you started out as a jeweller?
I’ve always created concept led jewellery, inspired by the story it tells. Over the last few years I’ve evolved this practice to a more refined look and feel of my jewellery, really honing in on my skills as a craft person and what is important to me. Telling a story with my work and making high quality jewellery made from precious metals and gemstones.
When do you feel most inspired?
Inspiration comes very spontaneously for me. It can be during a run, while talking to someone or even under the shower, but what I’ve noticed is that it is usually during a time of happiness and having a clear head. When I take care of myself and my well being I’m most creative. Another thing that the lockdown has taught me.
You recently moved your studio from The Goldsmiths Centre to the Cockpit Arts at Deptford. Are you looking forward to getting back into the studio, and has the change of studios provided inspiration? How important is your working environment to you?
Being part of Cockpit Arts has always been a dream of mine and being part of a community like this is very important to me. Having my studio at Cockpit Arts gives me more flexibility and freedom, especially with a little one in tow. I loved being at the Goldsmiths’ Centre but having my own studio like I have at Cockpits gives me the opportunity to work and meet clients any day of the week and fit work around family life. The way I see it, it’s a win/win situation, I can be flexible for my family as well as my clients.
Have you noticed any changes to your design practice this year or new ideas emerging?
The beginning of lockdown was very hard for me, being pregnant and the struggles of lockdown weren’t easy to cope with. Being forced to stop for a while gave me a different drive. I had the chance to sit down and think more intensely about where I want to take my business. Which area of the jewellery market do I want to tackle next. With a plan in mind the Inspiration came back as well.
Sustainability has rightly become a key focus within the jewellery industry, and we also know how important it is to you. Can you tell us about your process for making sustainable and ethical jewellery?
Sustainability and ethical making is very important to me. I apply a minimal waste policy in my practice. I collect every bit of saw dust created in the making process and recycle the metal to create new pieces. From the get go I buy my metal recycled. Currently I‘m working on a new and exciting line of bridal pieces that will be made from Fairtrade gold. I want to move all my gold pieces to being Fairtrade by the end of next year and only source fully traceable gemstones for the new bridal line.
What do you love the most about being a jeweller?
I really love sitting at the bench and making, but particularly I love making bespoke pieces that celebrate a special occasion. This could be an engagement ring to celebrate a couples love for one another, but also a birthday present or even someone celebrating themselves. These stories are what makes my job truly amazing, bringing joy to people and fulfilling their jewellery dreams.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Just do it! That risk you‘re afraid to take may just change your life.