With the royal wedding only two weeks away, India Hicks recalls how she was a 13-year-old "tomboy" whose main job was to assist with Princess Diana's train at another royal wedding 30 years ago.
But her claim to fame is not only that she was a bridesmaid to the late Lady Diana, goddaughter to Prince Charles and granddaughter of the last viceroy of India (hence her name).
To hear more of India Hicks' memories of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding day in 1981, tune in to the Barbara Walters special, "The Royal Wedding: A Modern Fairy Tale," April 18 at 10 p.m. ET
Hicks is also an author, model, television personality and designer. And in September, when her collection of fine jewelry rolls out nationally, Hicks can add jewelry designer to her list of accomplishments
From Tomboy to Jewelry Designer
Hicks has come a long way from the teenager she was at the 1981 royal wedding. She tells ABC's Barbara Walters in an interview that her first reaction to the bridesmaid invitation was "horror" at having to wear a dress.
But her new jewelry collection, created in partnership with M. Suresh, the fifth-largest De Beers site holder in the world, is anything but "tomboy." Hicks combines various influences in the collection's three lines: Initials, Hicks on Hicks and Island Life.
The "island" theme is a natural for Hicks, who lives with her partner and four children in the Bahamas, where she has a boutique on Harbor Island called the Sugar Mill. It sells housewares, jewelry and clothing for men and women.
Kate Davidson Hudson, accessories editor at Elle magazine, said Hicks' distinct "island" sensibility marries laid-back elegance with a certain timeless polish.
"In her personal life, she is a true embodiment of high style with a laid-back spin, and her newest jewelry endeavor communicates that distinct sensibility with flawless aplomb," Hudson said.
Hudson said Hicks mines inspiration from her surroundings, and that she draws on "highly cultivated" design references, including her late father, the famed British interior designer David Hicks.
"India has established herself as today's contemporary free-spirit without letting go of the austerity and heritage left behind by her father – a graceful hybrid that carries over into the elegant and regal quality of her jewelry," said Filipa Fino, Vogue magazine's accessories editor.
As a young woman Hicks studied photography in Boston and later wrote two books, "Island Life: Inspirational Interiors" and "Island Beauty." The newly minted jewelry designer also co-hosted the second season of "Top Design" on Bravo, following in the steps of designer Todd Oldham.
As part of another endeavor, Hicks is also creative partner and spokeswoman for British home and skincare product maker Crabtree & Evelyn, which launched the India Hicks Island Living and India Hicks Island Night collections with Hicks.
English Heritage and Island Life
Catie Briscoe, a fellow Brit, has worked with Hicks for the past six years in the Crabtree & Evelyn partnership.
"She is one of the most fun people to work with -- there's never a dull moment," said Briscoe, director of marketing for Crabtree & Evelyn. "She has high, high energy. She's hard to keep up with because she's very focused but very fun. She doesn't make anything too serious."
Hicks' style as a model caught the eye of designer Ralph Lauren and those at Italian shoe and leather goods line, Tod's. She most recently modeled for Tod's fall 2011 campaign.
"I turned up on the set and they said, 'You are the oldest model we have ever had,'" she told WWD, in a "hilariously bad Italian accent."
No matter if it is modeling or licensing, Briscoe said Hicks, 43, is "passionate" about her work -- from the "minutest detail to the big picture."
"She doesn't just place her name on something and expect checks to roll in," Briscoe said.
Hicks draws on Caribbean island flora, what she calls "classic West Indian style" and her English heritage to inspire her Crabtree & Evelyn collection, which includes eau de toilette, bath salts, shower gel, among other products.
Hicks' mother, Pamela, was the daughter of Countess Mountbatten of Burma and a bridesmaid to Queen Elizabeth. After many degrees of separation, Hicks is actually in the line of succession to the British throne.
"My mother reminds me, 'You are a part of history,' " Hicks told The New York Times. "It's only 30 years later that you think, 'I rode in a gilt carriage drawn by horses.'"
Prince Charles even granted Hicks' Spider Lily Body Collection the Royal Warrant, which indicates that a member of the royal household has used a product.
When asked if a connection to the royal family or royal wedding "hysteria" will give a boost to sales of India's jewelry line, Hudson said, "The market is savvy enough to distinguish between quality and hype when it comes to luxury at a higher price point."
"That said, the line does have a distinct and well-executed focus," Hudson said, saying the collection has "original design merit." It is a small first effort, but it is fresh effort that has the potential to resonate with a large cross-section of women."
Briscoe said the shapes and textures of Hicks' jewelry line seem reminiscent of Hicks' island life.
"It's nice to see she's keeping true to her lifestyle on the island," Briscoe said.