Leading designers from the Jewellery Quarter will have their work sold at Birmingham’s brand new John Lewis department store, which opened on Thursday September 24.
The Assay Office was instrumental in the development of a project that has seen a select group of Birmingham jewellery designers create exclusive collections to be sold in store.
Working closely with Jilly Cosgrove, founder of the initiative and board member of the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust, Assay Office Birmingham was integral in connecting buyers from John Lewis Partnership – a customer of the Assay Office – with Birmingham jewellery designers.
Together, Assay Office Birmingham and Cosgrove created a special brochure of local jewellery designers that was presented to the John Lewis team. This was followed by an exhibition of Birmingham jewellers’ work where the John Lewis buyers were able to view the collections in person.
Kicking off with designers and AOB customers James Newman, Kate Smith, Becca Williams, Rhiannon Lewis, Collette Waudby and Fei Liu, the John Lewis store will operate on a six-month cycle, selling the work of various designer-makers from the Jewellery Quarter.
The initiative has been created to both celebrate and support local independent designers, with more than 500 pieces of jewellery from the six designers set to launch in store.
Stella Layton, assay master and CEO at Assay Office Birmingham, says: “This is an incredible achievement for the designers involved, and reflects the huge amount of skill and ambition within Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The fact that we were able to support these talented and driven individuals to a commercial venture with a premium retailer like John Lewis, is fantastic. We wish them every success.”
Jilly Cosgrove, board member of the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust, comments: “For these designers, who range from established businesses to small start ups – to have their collections in John Lewis’ new regional flagship shop is amazing. This project has been over three years in the making and will allow John Lewis to access talented and upcoming designers from the Jewellery Quarter, providing a unique customer experience. Each group of designers will rotate on a six month basis, allowing us to demonstrate the breadth of talent here in the Quarter.”
James Newman has designed an exclusive range of limited edition pieces for the launch. Newman graduated from the Birmingham School of Jewellery 18 years ago and now has his own shop on Vyse Street in the Jewellery Quarter. He took inspiration for his collection from the exterior design of the new John Lewis department store, the Staffordshire Hoard and the Big Peg, a creative office space in the Jewellery Quarter. James’ collection of 180 pieces will be exclusive to John Lewis
“Creating unique, distinctive and beautiful jewellery is something I am passionate about and the iconic design of the John Lewis Birmingham shop provided great inspiration for my collection,” Newman says.
Kate Smith, from Stourbridge, whose designs were also chosen, believes her jewellery will be perfectly placed in John Lewis. She explains: “The expectations of John Lewis customers are on a par with my own; they demand quality, excellent customer service whilst taking something very special home that they are thrilled to own.”
Also part of the line up is Collette Waudby who is the current British Jeweller’s Association Jewellery Designer of the Year and former graduate of the internationally renowned Birmingham School of Jewellery.
Lisa Williams, head of branch at John Lewis Birmingham, adds: “The Jewellery Quarter is such an iconic and important part of Birmingham and we were keen to reflect its significance within the new shop in some way. Our buyers were extremely impressed with the designs that they received and it was a very difficult job to whittle it down to just six jewellers. I’m really impressed with the pieces we will be stocking in the shop and look forward to hearing customers’ thoughts come opening day.
“Supporting the local community is extremely important to us and we hope that our partnership with the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is the start of a long and fruitful relationship with a variety of businesses in and around the city.”
The jewellery will be available in John Lewis Birmingham and will start from £35.
John Lewis Birmingham will showcase the best of the retailer’s offer, allowing customers to shop from more than 350,000 products from its full range, including jewellery, fashion, furniture, homewares, beauty and technology trends.