Sarah Hutchings’ Parnell boutique Orsini Fine Jewellery is home to a sophisticated selection of pieces from Italy as well as custom creations. The jewellery designer reveals where her sense of style came from, and shares her travel tips, book recommendations and life lessons.
My love of fashion began… I have always loved fashion and this was very much influenced by my mother, she always bought Vogue magazines and Harper’s Bazaar from as early as I can remember, so I was brought up with beautiful fashion and style around me. My mother was also very discerning when it came to the quality of fabrics, the cut, the style. This has intrinsically rubbed off on me, and this desire for quality and classical style is very much at the forefront of my jewellery designs.
The best piece of fashion advice I’ve ever received is… believe in your own style and buy what suits you, not what is necessarily on trend, which seems to be forever changing at the moment. I also believe some colours are more flattering than others, so find out what makes you glow!
At the top of my wish list is… I have an obsession with shoes (as well as jewellery) and I really love the latest Gucci GG mid heel platform slide sandal. I love the mix of the classic Gucci with the house’s monogrammed canvas mixed in with a contemporary platform style with a chunky heel in brown suede. I also have many other items on my list from Italian designers.
I would describe my style in three words as… classical, elegant and contemporary.
The best book I’ve read recently is… I have an eclectic taste in books which range from self development, to romance and design. I recently read Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. A very good read during lockdown with its fast and simple philosophies. It helped to put life into perspective and helped to focus on what is important, living in the present moment. Published several years ago, I found it very relevant in 2020 with the world on its axis.
The other book I have read is Veranda: The Art of Outdoor Living by Lisa Newsom. I love reading about the romantic gardens of the Camargue countryside and gardens inspired by the neo-classical Venetian Palazzo. With summer approaching I am loving the beautiful outdoor living and inspirations. As a result, I have planted a new lemon tree and copious amount of lavenders. The bees will be happy…
My favourite place to dine is… constantly changing, however overall, it would have to be the small restaurant at the top of my street called Ginger. I love it because of the fresh ingredients and wonderful flavours, and that it is a little touch of Italian way of living in NZ, where you walk to your local and chat with the owner about the food and know the surrounding tables because they are neighbours. I love the sense of community which is so important in these strange times.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt recently is… ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, hence the book recommendation. If I have a very stressful day, for example a ring which is required for a wedding is delayed by a courier, I remind myself that no one is going to die from this and to remember to breathe, even if it is quite stressful! With what is happening in the world and so many people going through heartache and horrendous times due to COVID, it makes you re-evaluate what is important.
My favourite hidden gem in New Zealand is… With so many people unable to travel, Waiheke, Coromandel and Queenstown are becoming increasingly busy and less relaxing. We love sailing in the Bay of Islands – my favourite gem is Urupukapuka Island, the largest island in the Bay of Islands, where there is always a peaceful little cove. In the summertime it has a tropical feel to the air and the water is so clear. We have decided to base our yacht up there on a marina so that we can be out in the Bays and have numerous isolated beaches close by.
The last six months taught me… to make the most of every day and to develop daily goals and disciplines. This was a very relevant lesson with lockdown as it is very easy to let days pass you by. With the first lockdown I did not achieve as much as I wanted to. By the second lockdown I achieved many things around the house, tidied up and felt a sense of accomplishment. Another aspect the last six months have taught me is that it is not healthy to be isolated from friends and family and that human and social interaction is very important for our sense of wellbeing. I am making sure I lock in time with friends and have recently set up weekly lunches with my best and oldest friend.
If I didn’t live in Auckland… I would love to reside in a rooftop apartment in Milan. The more I visit the city, which must be well over 15 times now, the more I fall in love with it. The style, the sense of adventure, and the hidden eateries frequented by the locals. When I first used to visit Milan I did not like it as much as other cities, however once you get below the outer veneer there is a side to Milan that is very endearing. I love their lifestyle and the easy commutes to Lake Como, Garda and Maggiore.
My favourite city to travel to is… This would have to be Palermo in Sicily. A crazy place that is full of the unexpected. Not the most relaxing city due to the crazy driving, but the food and the people are full of life and interesting. We luckily stayed in the most incredible old Palazzo apartment in the heart of the city and it could not be a more amazing experience, wandering the small streets and eating and shopping where the locals were. The beauty of Palermo is that it is a gateway to other parts of Sicily which are amazing, Taormina being my favourite.
My most cherished possession is… my french chandelier I bought in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and brought back with me after living in London. It is very special as the murano green glass grapes were collected on travels through Italy and by my Mother, who passed away many years ago. She was an interior designer and many of the items in my house are from her and mean a lot to me.