SALUTE TO THE SUN
Zoe & Morgan designer Zoe Williams sheds light on the brand’s latest jewellery collection and reflects on her keys to business success
As a tempest rages in central Auckland on a freezing cold winter’s day, Zoe & Morgan’s City Works Depot flagship is more than a port in a storm. Warm, light-filled and with the jewellery brand’s new contemporary collection
‘Palace of the Sun’ on display, it’s easy to feel transported to faraway, sun-soaked locales.
Several are relevant to their new story. Sri Lanka, Brazil and Thailand, for a start, where most of the collection’s semi-precious stones have been sourced. The jewels range from the deliberately mismatched assortment of orange and yellow sapphires, rubies, emeralds and citrine set in the matte gold-plated discs of the Rising Sun earrings, to the Libyan desert glass that features in the limited-edition Sun Burst earrings, of which only 25 pairs have been made.
“We often have an item with a limited run, because it’s fun as a jeweller to work with limited quantities. And a lot of really interesting stones and materials only come in small quantities,” explains Zoe Williams, the 38-year-old designer and co-owner of the brand she founded with her brother and sister, Morgan and Ruth Sibbald, in 2005.
Based in Auckland, Bali and London respectively, Zoe, Morgan and Ruth conceptualise their twice-yearly collections together, always beginning with an exotic destination they thoroughly research to gather design references, then travel to once samples have been created in order to shoot campaign imagery. Zoe says the idea is to showcase the finished pieces against the (usually architectural) design elements that served as their inspiration. “It’s a way of [allowing] our customers to see the doorway that inspired the ring they’re wearing.”
‘Palace of the Sun’ celebrates India, in a follow-up to autumn/winter 2017’s ‘Palace of the Moon’, which reimagined the sacred geometry of traditional Indian design.
The collection marks the first time the brand has produced a two-part story, as opposed to thematically separate collections. “There were just too many ideas to put into one,” says Zoe.
After 12 years in business, the creative well is far from running dry. “We’ve made 400 of everything at this stage, so people are always like, ‘Surely you’ve run out of ideas?’ But the opposite is true. The more you learn, the more you realise there is to do. And it’s exciting!”
Unlike its lunar-focused sibling, ‘Palace of the Sun’ is a solar homage. “Our lives are defined by the sun — it brings life to our world and gives us our concept of time,” says Zoe. “[The sun’s] rays symbolise light and life and all that’s good in this world… and we’ve channelled that into our jewellery to illuminate the powerful and radiant women who wear it.”
Testament to the adaptability of Zoe & Morgan’s brand and business model, ‘Palace of the Sun’ also deviates from the norm in that the campaign imagery wasn’t produced in India, but in Bali. “As far as sun, it doesn’t get much better than Bali,” laughs Zoe.
It’s a seemingly throwaway comment, but in its essence and delivery it perfectly encapsulates the core values of the brand and its founders. “We basically made up the rules to really enjoy our job,” says Zoe, the inference being that rules are there to be broken if a sunnier option presents itself.
Sun-seekers will need no further convincing, but for the heatwave-averse? Perhaps the collection’s unofficial mantra will resonate. “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you,” says Zoe.
‘Palace of the Sun’ is available from September 1.
“The more you learn, the more you realise there is to do. And it’s exciting!”
Zoe Williams wears Rising Sun earrings, $575, from the ‘Palace of the Sun’ collection.
From bottom left: Eclipse earrings, $250, Sunbeam ring, $265, Zehra earrings, $450, and Rising Sun necklace, $599.