Take a closer look at Bjorg, tipped to be the UK’s next big thing.
An anatomically correct heart necklace might be an instant opinion divider, but it will certainly be a conversation starter, and it is edgy designs such as this that have made Norwegian jewellery brand Bjørg a talking point in itself.
Bjørg has been making inroads into the UK market for a while now, with about 60 stockists around the country, but it seems that it could now be on the verge of blossoming into the next big brand with leading retailers including Steffans and Charles Fish backing it.
Steff Suter of Northampton retailer Steffans is well known within the industry for his ability to select and stock leading commercially sound brands. He was a pioneer of the charm and bead boom and today his shop, and website, are packed with offerings from power brands such as Stephen Webster, Links of London, Monica Vinader, Thomas Sabo and Trollbeads.
Suter has a keen eye for emerging brands and has recently taken on simulated diamond brand Carat* and Theo Fennell’s silver line Alias, and he believes that Bjørg will be the next brand to explode.
“I believe this brand is ready to go in the UK market and that’s why I will work closely with Bjørg to establish its mark in the UK,” says Suter.
Samantha Hansard of Fish Brothers, which is planning to relaunch its Charles Fish jewellery boutique in Canary Wharf in June, says she also believes that the brand is on the verge of serious mainstream success.
Intrigued by such glowing endorsements from within what is often a sceptical trade, and impressed by what was on display at Bjørg’s stand at The Jewellery Show in Birmingham in February, Professional Jeweller decided to meet with Bjørg designer and founder Bjørg Nordli-Mathisen, who was on a whistle-stop tour of London at the time.
Chatting over a glass of wine in London’s historic jewellery quarter Hatton Garden, Nordli-Mathisen reveals that she’s not a stranger to the city. In fact, this is where it all started for Bjørg.
Nordli-Mathisen was originally working in the fashion industry but after a life-altering trip to India she decided to design jewellery instead, and it was in London that she made her very first sale to retail.
“I went to India and I saw all these natural materials and rough stones and I was inspired,” Nordli-Mathisen remembers.
“Jewellery is very addictive and I had made 100 pieces when I realised that I had to sell them – that was a shock. In my home market they were wearing small, conservative jewellery. So I went to London, walked into Liberty and sold the jewellery out of my backpack – it is amazing what is possible.”
Existing retail jeweller stockists of Bjørg include Wave Jewellery’s mini chain of stores, Galio in St Albans and GU1 Jewellers in Surrey, but to date the brand has been better represented in fashion shops and has in fact just signed a major collaboration deal with a large cutting-edge fashion chain. However, this is a strategy that Nordli-Mathisen wants to rely less on by building a stronger business within the core jewellery trade.
“We can sell the nicer pieces to fashion stores and they don’t even know that it’s gold and silver,” says Nordli-Mathisen. “Jewellers should be selling them.”
With products including full-length finger rings that resemble rib cages, chunky uncut stones held by what look like bird claws and rings with wide bars reading “Nobody puts baby in a corner”, the range might not strike a chord with the more traditional retailers. But for some, this quirky style – and the fact that each piece is handmade by a team of dedicated artisans in Thailand, and designed by Nordli-Mathisen – will be right on the money.
As Suter says: “Bjørg is a designer that I would call a bit on the dark side; a bit steampunk, a bit Johnny Depp, Tim Burton-esque with museum and taxidermy themes. I love the way the silver and use of off-colour rose cut-diamonds has an aged feel.”
For retailers that want to take tentative steps into stocking the brand, it also has a range of much more subtle pieces that include simple agate stud earrings, delicate pendants that feature a stem of uncut semi-precious stone and heart charms with a range of uplifting inscriptions.
But whether it’s a giant gold-plated beetle with rosecut diamond eyes as a pendant, or simple textured silver studs that will excite your shoppers, Bjørg is a brand that is well worth taking the time to investigate.
This article first appeared in Professional Jeweller’s April issue.