Not Your Ordinary Baubles
From an early age, Jane Pope had a natural, keen sense for dress up. Growing up in Newberry, South Carolina,
where there is never a lack of balls, cotillions and other fabulous occasions that call for elegance – having a
sartorial education is key. But Pope’s personal connection to jewels, rings and brooches is much more than just
a “southern thing.” It is her grandmother’s style, from the lavish coats she used to wear to the myriad pieces of
jewelry in her personal collection that has served as the greatest influence behind both Pope’s first hit collection,
Balboa Jewelry, and her newer high-end line Jane Pope Jewelry.
Having sold her first line to Barney’s New York right out of graduating from the Gemological Institute of America,
Pope hit the ground running and never looked back. But being featured in magazines like Vogue and Elle, having
her jewelry worn by Natalie Portman and Drew Barrymore, and even being named one of the “10 Best Style
Makers to Watch” by Marie Claire can’t eclipse Pope’s inherent down-to-earth Southern way of life. Fresh off of
presenting at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim Miami, we caught up with Pope who gave the dish on her
upcoming motherhood, her golden rules for accessorizing and that one beautiful piece of jewelry that got away.
Words By Alexander Patiño & Images by Fernando Colon
FASHION Q&A: What’s your favorite piece of jewelry that your grandmother left behind?
JANE POPE: She had this really cool charm bracelet that was from a trip to Europe from when she was young. She collected really unique,
ornate charms from her trip. I remember loving that and how she paired it with other things. She wore big heavy coats and modern pieces, but
it always seemed to complement that traditional charm bracelet very nicely.
FQA: You find a lot of inspiration in the southern sartorial power of South Carolina. Do you think that power is still there as it was in your
grandmother’s heyday? Do you still get inspiration from home?
POPE: Certainly! I think that fashion is spreading wildly in the south. People are just more interested in what is going on in the world in fashion.
There’s still that southern twist on what everyone else in the world is doing.
FQA: Do you happen to have children Jane?
POPE: I’m due in three weeks!
FQA: Wow! Congratulations! Well, heritage is very important to you – it’s something that is heavily ingrained in southerners. What tenets
of fashion do you hope to ingrain in your family through your work?
POPE: What I’m working on now is kind of timeless. Many of the pieces in the collection are simple, nature-inspired, organic, easy to wear
pieces that can be worn with anything. I didn’t want it to be thought of as trendy, because for me that has an implication that it can eventually go
out of style. I try to design things that I can see myself wearing today and not necessarily pieces that I will wear every single day, but that I can
still use and keep with me forever.
FQA: In terms of your very successful first line Balboa, how do you feel you’ve evolved as a designer
from that line to the Jane Pope Jewelry line now?
POPE: They’re both completely different. The only connective thread I think is the use of charms that I used
heavily in the Balboa line and still use now. In general Jane Pope Jewelry is more feminine and has less
spunk than the Balboa line.
FQA: What is your favorite custom design story?
POPE: A friend of my husband’s, who is now a great friend of mine, had this 35k aquamarine stone and I
placed it in a huge, wide cuff bracelet. That was my favorite because she was also very close with her
grandmother and she really wanted to find a way to wear it, but it’s not really easy to wear a 35k stone. It
was fun to be able to do something for her with a piece she hasn’t been able to wear for years.
FQA: You are definitely very femme and very stylish. You absolutely know how to dress. Which fashion
designer do you think best complements the sensibilities of your jewelry line?
POPE: I would have to say Phillip Lim because that’s the line that I wear the most. It is fashion forward but it
also seems to have a classic, throwback kind of style.
FQA: What are your golden rules for accessorizing?
POPE: You would think I have some hardcore rules for accessorizing, but really I think it all depends on the
person in question. My best friend is my favorite person to style because she can wear huge earrings and
a huge necklace and yet she can look amazing and not overdone at all and some people can’t pull that
kind of thing off. So I guess the only rule is to know yourself and know your own style. I can’t wear nearly as
much jewelry as she can. I guess knowing that is the key.
FQA: Is there a certain piece of jewelry that you came across that you absolutely loved that just
slipped through your fingers?
POPE: Yes! This is a terrible story. There was this antique ring that I wanted that a lady at the 77th
Street GreenFlea Market was selling. It was a Rose Gold band with purple garnets – it was a
beautiful design that I’ve never seen before. I was dying for it and my husband went back to buy it
for me and after being in touch with the lady for over a year we learned that she just recently
passed away! This just happened like a month ago too. It’s a shame in both regards, but I hope to
find something like that ring one day.
FQA: What public figure from either the past or the present would you love to see donning Jane
POPE: I love to see it on anyone when I least expect it. But in terms of public figures I hope it’s
someone casual, but very aware of their own style. Someone like a Carolyn Bessette-type -
someone who wears their elegance comfortably.
FQA: Are you happy where Jane Pope Jewelry is now or do you want to evolve into one of the
major heavy-hitting big shots like Tiffany’s or a Harry Winston?
POPE: Obviously I want to grow. I’m still new and young and I’m still developing. Jane Pope
Jewelry just started in 2006 so I have a while to go. But I don’t think I ever want to be a Tiffany’s or a
Harry Winston. I’m an artist so I want to be involved. I want to grow, but I don’t aspire to be a giant.