In 2016 I was commissioned by costume designers Dinah Collin and Richard Cooke to make a vintage style pearl necklace for the film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1951 novel My Cousin Rachel which was written and directed by Roger Michell.
I was very excited to find out that the necklace was for the leading lady in the film, Rachel Weisz.
Once the design had been finalised I met with Ms Weisz for a fitting so I could make the necklace fit her perfectly.
I then set to work on the project and was told by the costume designers that I would have to make four identical pearl necklaces. One necklace was called the 'hero necklace' which would be used in all the main and close up shots. The challenge was that I had to make the other three necklaces very fragile as I was told I was 'making them to be broken'...
Obviously this would be the tricky part as my jewellery is made to last! I had to work out a way that the necklace could be worn during a scene, grabbed whilst on the neck and broken during an argument without strangling the lovely Ms Weisz!
Once they had started filming I was invited on set and I set up my work station in a room at the beautiful period location.
The candle-lit scene was filmed on a dark wooden stair-case and Ms Weisz and her co-star, Sam Claflin, have an argument and he grabs her and the 'to be broken' necklace breaks and the director gets 'the shot' as the pearls cascaded down the stairs. This is when the fun began! In between each take, the next necklace was put on Ms Weisz whilst everybody on set scrambled around finding all the pearls on the floor, count them up to see if any were missing and bring them in to me at my work station and I would re-string the necklace on a thin strand of silk and replace any pearls that had not been retrieved!
This carried on for at multiple takes of the scene with the three 'to be broken' necklaces on rotation for around 3 hours with me working furiously at my workstation!
They finally said 'cut' and that they had got what they wanted and then the director and Ms Weisz came and found me to say a massive thank you and that they could not have got the scene without me which was an amazing compliment!
Job done and one that I will always remember! I was then invited to screening of the film in London where I took my parents as my guests along with some of my friends. It was a very special night and a very proud moment to see that the necklace actually played a massive part in the storyline of the film. It featured in many scenes and had a lot of screen time which was very exciting and also featured on most of the promotional posters some of which were on the side of London buses that I saw driving around!
Image from the set of My Cousin Rachel