Hot 100 2014: Polly Wales

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On building her international presence and brand transparency.

After spending much of January considering turning a Harry Potter-style cupboard under the stairs into a polishing room, jewellery designer Polly Wales decided it was time to find her business a new home.

Now settled into a 400-year-old barn in the Cotswolds, the brand can continue its upward trajectory kick-started by the decision to move into fine jewellery three years ago.

After making her debut at the Couture Show in Las Vegas, Polly has established new markets for her jewellery, including France, Japan and Canada, has doubled accounts in the US and secured high-profile locations in the UK, such as Fortnum & Mason. “Becoming part of the American jewellery community has really changed things for me. It feels like I’ve finally been given free rein to do what I enjoy most,” she reveals.

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With a spontaneous and slightly renegade approach to her work – think chunky, organic-shaped gold rings scattered with coloured gemstones – Polly is now focusing on transparency and sustainability, ensuring all of the diamonds used in her lost-wax casting and cast-in-place processes are conflict-free. She explains: “Once I worked with gold suddenly everything made sense – people seemed to understand my pieces better and I was able to move beyond the UK craft market. Now we are working on all our gold being recycled and researching ethical suppliers of sapphires and rubies.”

Since scaling-up her operation in the leafy surrounds of the Cotswolds, Polly is learning to be the boss, something she describes as “one of the biggest learning curves”. She admits: “Where last year there was me and two people part-time, now there are eight people every day. It’s changed the whole dynamic and put me in a place I never thought I’d see myself.”

Polly Wales selected as a Trendsetter in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2014, in association with headline sponsor Pandora and principle partner The Company of Master Jewellers.

To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.
 

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