Don’t miss our competition winners showing during Jewellery Week.
Professional Jeweller readers picked out Clarice Price-Thomas, Claire English and OAK as the three winners of the magazine’s popular annual competition to win a stand at Treasure and Claire English was gifted a further prize of a stand at The Jewellery Show London after being dubbed the most commercially savvy of the three by a panel of industry judges. Meet the ladies behind the designs as they prepare to make the most of their prizes.
Several months ago Professional Jeweller launched its annual competition to win a stand at Jewellery Week shows Treasure and The Jewellery Show London, which was open to emerging jewellery brands and designers.
The magazine received a record number of entries that were whittled down to a shortlist of 10 by a panel of industry judges and their designs were put to the public vote on professionaljeweller.com.
After a fierce week of voting our readers picked Claire English, Clarice Price-Thomas and OAK as the winners, with each being gifted a stand at stand at consumer selling show Treasure held at Somerset House during Jewellery Week.
The three winners were then cast back to the original panel of judges and asked to take part in a video interview with Professional Jeweller to talk about their commercial aspirations. The judges then voted based on who they believed would best benefit from an additional stand at trade show The Jewellery Show London, also at Somerset House, and our judges crowned Claire English as that overall winner.
OVERALL WINNER: CLAIRE ENGLISH
London-based designer Claire English was the double winner in this year’s competition, scooping not only a stand at the public jewellery show Treasure but also winning the new element of 2012’s competition: an additional stand at trade-facing show Jewellery Show London, which will make its debut at Somerset House on June 12.
English’s collection of Special Jewellery has become a growing feature on the UK jewellery scene over the past few years with its quirky styling and play on ephemera, Victoriana and childhood memories. English was also a NexGem in last year’s Professional Jeweller Hot 100 and is set to launch a new collection called Tooth and Claw at IJL in September based on the old streets of London and Pearly Kings and Queens of its East End.
In the meantime however her focus is on a special edition piece produced to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee that is due to be unveiled during London Jewellery Week.
“My jewellery is all about taking ordinary, insignificant objects and making them special through them becoming jewellery,” explains Claire. “I want to make work that could sit in the museums of the future alongside something like a Victorian necklace and be just as special.”
At present English has about nine stockists in the UK, most concentrated in London, and hopes to expand this to Scotland and beyond in the coming year, with the international market a key focus for her brand’s growth. She has already positioned her brand online with global jewellery and accessories site Boticca and recently won a stockist in Sydney, Australia.
“I think America will be good,” says English, who already has regular orders coming in from the States and has recently sent some press samples to a potential online stockist.
English’s quirky collections, which have been thus far themed around objects beginning with the letter M – matchsticks, mice and magpie claws and feathers – has won her a range of customers, often unexpected to the designer.
“My demographic is interesting because at first I thought my best customer would be early 30s, professional, aspirational,” she explains. In fact, her bestselling Bubbleblower necklace which, as its name suggests, is based on the classic bubble wands found in the brightly coloured tubes of the liquid bubble soap, has become a Christening gift favourite, with parents buying them as little mementos or to hang over the baby’s cot.
At her more recent pop-up shop ventures – as part of the Pieces of Eight collective that included last year’s Treasure competition winner Laura Gravestock as well as seven other designers including Gina Melosi and Momocreatura – her work was snapped up by female shoppers in their 50s and 60s, with her Magpie Swag claw earrings selling becoming a favourite among fashion-conscious women.
At present English has been taking the time to do her own PR but recognises that the time has come to seek out a creative agency to work with to ensure that everything from her imagery – “photos can be your number one sales point, they’re how someone falls in love with your brand” – to editorial outreach are maintained.
“Sometimes you think ‘oh it will just come’ but now is the time for me to organise PR,” English explains.
As a designer-brand that crosses the boundary between quirky and commercial, English is in a very special place. She still hand-makes her collections herself but knows that her playful products have vast global appeal. “My works is unmistakably English and unforgettable,” she states. And indeed, without such belief her brand would not be a winner.
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID…
“Claire English is not only the most articulate but has the clearest idea of her own branding and the direction her business should take.”
SARAH CARPIN, CMJ MEDIA
“She is quirky and knows how to deal with retailers.”
JULIE DRISCOLL, THE JEWELLERY SHOW LONDON
“She is the one who has the clearest command of her business plan, branding and marketing strategy.”
KIYAN FOROUGHI, BOTICCA
Clarice Price-Thomas is an emerging designer on the UK jewellery scene. Not only is she now one of the three winners of Professional Jeweller Treasure competition, she has a number of other accolades under her belt including winning the second Unsigned mentoring scheme to be run by London jewellery retailer EC One, which has helped her to develop her brand, product, pricing and future plans and she has just moved into her own studio space near Hatton Garden.
Price-Thomas has never formally studied jewellery design, instead taking inspiration from the work of her horologist father. Her first collection, Time, is a playful mix of silver and gold vermeil jewellery based on the gears of watch complications and with them have a strong mechanical feel. The pieces are even cut using her father’s watchmaking tools. As well as a number of bespoke orders, including engagement rings and gents’ stud earrings, Price-Thomas has been busy prepping herself for the exhibition season.
“In the next 12 months I hope exhibiting will allow me to get more stockists,” she explains. Price-Thomas has recently won Scottish retailers Brazen and Black Box Boutique as stockists and will also sell through EC One. “The next year will be about me building on who I am and what my brand is,” she reveals. “Hopefully with that will come new stockists and a following.”
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID…
“Clarice’s passion and personality came through along with her awareness of the importance of herself and her story being
central to her brand.” VAL TROTTER, PEBBLES
Parul Tolentino and Jo-Anne Owdud met at university but only began designing with one another when they met for a catch-up dinner one evening, having both worked in the jewellery industry for several years. Fast forward a few years and the duo behind Oak Jewellery are celebrating a year of changes that has lead to them winning a stand at Treasure, where they will present their updated collections in silver, 9ct gold and Fair Trade Fair Mined gold.
“We’ve really spent the last six to eight months honing down our collections so that it’s more accessible,” explains Owdud.
“I think we’re constantly aware that we want to be a brand and we want Oak to mean a lot of things, so to avoid being pigeon holed as just fine or ethical jewellery we’ve added silver lines to our collection and 9ct gold,” adds Tolentino.
The brand has been working with a multiple retailer to create a special collection, and has also begun outsourcing its manufacturing to give the designers more time to work on developing Oak, making it retailer-ready in time for this summer’s shows.
“We’re growing on what we’ve got and by nature we’re fast designers,” says Tolentino. “But we want to walk before we run.” The pair describe their work as narrative, romantic and nostalgic: “We want people to treasure the jewellery and enjoy it like we do.”
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID…
“Oak Jewellery are really switched on and seem ready to push their work into new stockists. I really think the show will benefit them.”
LAURA GRAVESTOCK, JEWELLERY DESIGNER
This article was taken from the June 2012 issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. To read a digital version of this issue click here.