Jorie Grassie, an owner of a jewellery brand Jorie is a dedicated conservationist and nature lover. American-born Jorie has made her home in the Scotish Highlands for nearly two decades. Her collection is a contemporary interpretation of an ancient tradition. Each piece is handcrafted with fine stones, collection coloured diamonds and supreme golds. Each design has a unique identity expressing a feature of The Highlands or a person who is significant to Jorie.
Deer tusk jewellery dates back 15,000 years ago to the Neolithic Age. Men and woman both wore Deer Tusk Jewellery identifying themselves as ‘skilled providers’. Later in the Victorian Era, Prince Albert expressed his love for the Scottish Highlands by commissioning many pieces of Deer Tusk Jewellery for his beloved Queen. Today I am sharing my conversation with Jorie Grassie about the concept and story behind the brand.
What is the concept and history behind Jorie brand?
My brand Jorie Jewellery creates beautiful fine jewellery using the finest metals and stones mixed with Red Deer tusks, all sourced from where the brand is based; my estate (with help from my neighbours!) in the Scottish Highlands. All the deer are ethically culled, as they have to be by law, and I love creating something so unique out of this necessity.
The brand actually started quite organically. I originally designed jewellery for myself, before interest from friends and family led me to designing bespoke pieces for my loved ones. I was at a party one night and a woman was very complimentary about my necklace and I had a lightbulb moment that this could potentially become a business.
Who is your jewellery for?
I like to think my pieces can be worn by everyone. I have designed each piece very carefully and used my knowledge and passion for antique jewellery to make sure that there are classic shapes and styles which are timeless. These are updated with modern innovations – such as the clasps and connectors – which help provide a movement and a tactile aspect to the pieces.
How do you chose and source the materials for your jewellery?
The tusks are either taken from the deer we cull on my estate, or generously given to me by our neighbours! Now the brand is more established I also get people contacting me wishing to donate tusks they have, which is lovely. Scottish law dictates a certain number of deer are culled per year to help control the spread of lyme disease and control the population.
I mix this with the highest quality 18k gold and tumble-cut stones like peridot, mandarin garnets and diamonds. This style of stone has lots of tiny surfaces, meaning they catch the light beautifully and have a really high shine.
When did you start your business and what challenges or obstacles did you have to overcome to establish the brand on the jewellery market?
Obviously, because the main material I use is very rare there are a lot of people who did not initially understand the brand or the concept. Once I explain the background, and that although it sounds controversial it’s actually a very ethical practice, most people are then on board. I think once you see the pieces you understand a lot more – they’re very tactile!
Jewellery is a highly competitive market. What measures or steps did you have to take in order to ensure your Jorie’s brand presence?
I am very lucky that my brand is actually very unique. I’m the only person in the UK using deer tusk for jewellery, although it was very popular in the Victorian times – even Queen Victoria was a fan! Once we had that initial interest it really spiralled. We have also had a lot of support from Scottish media, which has been really lovely!
How and where can people find out about Jorie?
If you are in London pop into Harvey Nichols and speak to one of our lovely sales assistants, who will be able to tell you everything you need to know! For anyone else there is the website www.jorie.co.uk which has lots of facts about Red Deer and the history of the brand, you can even read about the specially designed tweed which we use for our packaging!
Your jewellery is sold in one of the UK top department stores. Was it hard to get to HARVEY NICHOLS?
Harvey Nichols happened so quickly – I’m still pinching myself! It’s my absolute favourite store, so it really is a dream come true. Especially as we are a part of the newly refurbished Fine Jewellery Destination on the ground floor alongside other fabulous jewellery brands.
Is Jorie sold anywhere else in the world? Do you have any plans to expand the brand presence?
We are stocked in Hamilton & Inches, Edinburgh, a beautiful department store which I absolutely adore – make sure to visit around Christmas time, when it’s at its finest! We are also in talks overseas, which is very exciting…
What is your favourite piece in the collection and why?
I think my favourite piece absolutely has to be the Lady Falls Necklace, as this is one of the first pieces I designed for myself. I was inspired by the waterfall at home on the Culachy Estate, from which it takes its name, and I think the piece really captures and movement and strength of the water across the rocks. It features over 237 tusks and 834 diamonds and is a real statement.
What does future hold for Jorie?
We’re only just getting started! I’ve recently been named one of Scotland’s Fashion Fifty, which is a huge accolade. I’m already hard at work designing the next collection. I’m always finding inspiration from my travels or the amazing stories our customers tell me.
You might also like to read my interview with Hannah Davis – an accessories designer behind Wolf & Moon.