Hot 100 2013: Naomi Newton Sherlock

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One of the widest yet most finely tuned views of UK jewellery design.

By Steve Spear

Heading up a nine-strong design team and overseeing the account management for the UK’s biggest wholesale jeweller is one heck of a responsibility.

But it is one Naomi Newton Sherlock quite genuinely takes in her stride, routinely overseeing design and sale of collections to more than 2,000 retailers in the UK, plus more beyond in Europe and Australia.

With a schedule that sees her comp shopping and travelling to manufacturers and design fairs, trade shows and sales appointments, she has one of the widest and most finely tuned views of jewellery in the UK. This year her reward came when she was promoted to creative director. Composed, incredibly together and relaxed in a way that only the truly competent are, Naomi is utterly deserving of the promotion.

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Having studied Italian and Japanese, she is trilingual and notes it was probably more than coincidence that she chose to speak languages from cultures with a rich history of design and fashion. She loves travelling and has plenty of it in her passport – including a six-month stint in a Tibetan nunnery where she went to teach English. She retains a love of the outdoors, whether snowboarding or camping, and adds that she still seeks adventure.

She has one at WB now. With the acquisition of London-based Gecko placing key individuals like managing director Andrew Morton across two companies, her input will be more valuable than ever. Yet she nearly quit jewellery.

Five years ago she was mulling a leap into the spreadsheet-heavy world of buying when a freelancing friend spotted a job going at Domino. She applied and after meeting with Andrew and co-founder Patrick Fuller she was offered the job. “It was the strangest job interview ever – they didn’t even look at my portfolio. When I challenged them on that later, they said they ‘just knew’.” She has that effect.

And then she had to get used to the challenge. In design circles commercial can be used as a dirty word. “I had to get over that too, but I can now say, hand on heart, that it is more rewarding to make something the customer actually buys and wears. One of the most rewarding projects is engagement rings. If you have designed one that is commercial, wearable and repeatable – and you see its sales climb – you know hundreds of people are out there wearing it. That’s special.” Equally special, she says, are her design team, recipients of a Lonmin in each of the last two years. You see, she says, you can be commercial and creative at the same time.

This Hot 100 Tresor Paris Trendsetter profile was taken from the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2013 book. To read the digital book in full, click here.

 

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