Green Bijou — An Interview With Designer Tricia McMaster


Toronto is filled with so much amazing talent. Everywhere I go, I’m delighted with individuals I meet and the work they produce. It’s amazing what they can create with their hands and imagination. When visiting the ‘One Of A Kind’ show back in the Spring, I had the pleasure of meeting jewellery designer, Tricia McMaster. She creates stunning re-worked vintage pieces; many of which I happily feasted my eyes on (and, eventually took one home with me) when chatting with her.

An eceltic background, Tricia began as an interior designer, creating her own firm after having worked in a graphic design firm after completing  her arts and illustration course at Sheridan college. From sourcing anitque furniture for cilents, she was led to learn more about anitque jewellery — which has helped her confidentely pick the beautiful pieces she uses today in her jewellery.

On the anniversary of celebrating the second year of her company, ‘Green Bijou,’ we were happy to chat with her about her designs.

Fashion Translated: “What inspired you to become a jewellery designer?”
“It actually started on a whim! Every month I’d get my fashion magazines and notice an increase in the trend for vintage “inspired” pieces. I kept thinking, ‘I’d rather wear the real thing.’  I put my knowledge to use and created a few pieces for myself. After being stopped by strangers asking where I got my necklace from, I realized there was a demand for this kind of jewellery.  I love being able to put my knowledge of antiques into the designs and creating pieces that fit into the movement of less disposable fashion.

FT: “What’s your creative process like? Do you have a vision of what something should look like and then source it?”
Tricia: “I often work backwards from a vision – my mind starts whirling when I find a cool item and [I] think, now how could I use this piece in a design?  The end result is not always what I initially created in my mind, but, to me, making sure the vintage element is the focal point to the piece I’m making is crucial; so, I work around that.”

FT: “Vintage has been all the rage for a few years now. What is it about vintage pieces that you’re drawn towards?”
Tricia: “My draw to vintage is threefold; the appeal of the patina (aging of material) is one.  I like objects that you can look at and admire for the colour and rich texture. Even if you aren’t sure what is so captivating, it’s almost always a result of time worn patina. Secondly, the story that comes with each piece is priceless.  My clients love that they are not only getting a unique piece no one else will have, but, that the piece has a history. What stories could a Parisian 18th century chandelier crystal tell?  Lastly, the re-invention and resurrection of vintage pieces is fascinating to me. Every one of my design uses antique elements, so each piece is a “green” creation, hence the name, Green Bijou (Bijou is jewel in French). Besides, no one can see those beautiful antique treasures sitting in a drawer, so let’s get them out and put them on display!”
FT: “Where do you draw inspiration from when creating an accessory?”
Tricia: “For me the inspiration is a combination of where the item is from and the current trends I can see it fitting into. I’m always inspired by the history of the places we travelled to, to get the antique and the emotions it evokes as a result. I look for fashion inspiration when in France, especially. Every time I look at the photos from there, I’m inspired by their architecture, people and lifestyle.”
FT: “Having been someone that has purchased and wears your jewellery regularly — I have to admit I love the pieces you put on each piece! Where is it you find these wonderful adornments to put on each accessory?”
Tricia: “Everywhere! I am constantly sourcing and on the hunt for cool, unique items. My favourite places to source are the flea markets in Paris. I’ve devoted two entire Collections to items from France. Whenever I travel, I source for items from that country. Many items are from Europe and North America. Locally, I go to many estate sales, flea markets and charity shops.  The thrill is in the hunt!”

FT: “Many women often admit they are hesitant in wearing vintage pieces in fear of looking dated — any advice to them?”
Tricia: “For me it’s not only the reinvention of the pieces that allows you to wear them again, it’s choosing the right vintage pieces to re-work — not every piece stands the test of time. Mixing old with new and playing with vintage in a new way  allows me to bring the pieces forward with a fresh look. I pay attention the trends but don’t follow them as a hard and fast rule – I want my pieces to be timeless. I’m a big fan of mixing metals – gone are the days when everything had to match perfectly. Today’s fashion has more freedom, which is why vintage will always have a place in current design.

For more information, please check out Tricia McMaster and her designs at