India Hicks wears a lot of hats: Model, author, interior decorator. But these days the mother of five—who was a bridesmaid in Princess Diana's wedding (she's a distant successor to the British throne)—can be found in the Bahamas, where she currently resides, designing the fine jewelry line that bears her name. Here, she shares her deep-rooted love of jewelry, how to incorporate it into your wedding day, and what makes the best bridesmaids gift.
BRIDES: How did you decide to break into jewelry?
India Hicks: I am very much a product of my past and my heritage in England. My grandmother's time as the last Vicereine of India and her well documented life as a flag bearer for the Jazz Age led her to build a spectacular collection of jewels. Growing up watching my mother dress for dinner—taking some of these pieces out and trying them on—fired the imagination as it would for any young girl. My grandfather, the great-grandson of Queen Victoria, was able to add to his wife Edwina's collection such extraordinary things as the Star Tiara of diamonds and pearls. Every year for 38 years he designed an anniversary present that was always jewelry. Later on, my own father designed a collection for the famous French jewelry house of Chaumet. Given all this, it's not surprising that I would venture into jewelry design.
BRIDES: What is your favorite product from your line?
IH: Ah, that is like asking which out of my five children I prefer over another. You can never choose. You love them equally. Of course in the world of jewelry there may be pieces that can be worn daily over pieces only suitable for a red carpet moment, but one piece does not shine above another.
BRIDES: What do you think is an ideal bridesmaids present?
IH: Something that's personalized or evokes a strong memory of the occasion. Princess Diana gave me one of the roses from her bouquet, which she had set in glass. I use as a paperweight on my desk to this day.
BRIDES: Do you have any recommendations for a day-of present for brides-to-be?
IH: One of the India Hicks Love Letters with the initials of the bride and groom, of course. I love it in the small, delicate 18k gold design.
BRIDES: What role does jewelry play for a woman on her wedding day?
IH: An emotional one. It becomes a memory that lasts forever. Inherited jewelry would always be my top choice—something that your mother or mother-in-law wore on their wedding day. My sister wore my mother's tiara, a beautiful diamond tiara, inherited from my grandmother. So much history in one piece.
BRIDES:What should a bride keep in mind when pairing jewelry with her dress?
IH: Not to let the jewelry overshadow her or the dress. Simple!
BRIDES: What is the key to a life-long partnership?
IH: Humor, kindness and a great deal of compromise. You have to work at a relationship every day, never become complacent, never compare and never take someone for granted.
BRIDES: What are the essential elements to hosting an authentic destination wedding in your adopted home country of the Bahamas?
IH: Making sure it's an entirely personal experience infused with lots of lovely local flavor: Bare feet on the pink sand beach, decorating with palm fronds, a moment of silence as the sun sets, parading down the small warm streets with the local school marching band and finishing the day with a Junkanoo (the Bahamian equivalent of a Mardi Gras parade).
BRIDES: Do you have any advice for brides walking the line between looking sexy and wedding appropriate?
IH: Be beautifully covered up during the ceremony itself—a long romantic train, lace veils, and covered shoulders. Afterwards, remove the veil, take off the train, reveal more skin and let down your hair.
BRIDES: You site your father's aesthetic as a major influence on your jewelry—which piece do you think would be his favorite?
IH: Living under the stylish eye of my father played a strong part in developing my own design sense. Inspired by his famous hexagon pattern as the primary design element, the Hicks on Hicks collection is modern and architectural. I think he would be delighted that I have drawn such inspiration from him. I doubt he would choose one piece over another. He would enjoy the collection as a whole.
BRIDES: Whose wedding dress would you steal right off of her?
IH: Grace Kelly.
BRIDES: How do you think the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding look will be remembered decades down the line?
IH: Who knows how this dress will be perceived over time. Of course right now we all regard it as a triumph. But bear in mind when Diana stepped out from the golden carriage in her Cinderella moment we all thought that 1980's puffball was the most successful, romantic wedding dress we had ever encountered.