Putting pre-owned jewellery in the spotlight with a recycled store.
There is much to admire about Catalina Rosca’s business, philosophy and ethics.
Lila’s, a bricks-and-mortar and online retailer of ‘pre-loved’ jewellery, is still in its start-up phase, but it’s already creating a stir among traditional jewellers who wonder whether its specialist focus on high quality, certified, vintage jewellery could be as successful as pre-owned watches are proving.
Lila’s doesn’t look like a normal vintage or pre-owned jewellery shop, steering well clear of the stereotypical jumbled antique shop aesthetic. Its boutique in trendy East Dulwich, South London, is a beautiful space that mixes modern materials and furnishings with vintage artefacts and jewellery. The quality is unmistakable, and unsurprising given the involvement of Four-By-Two, a design consultancy whose previous clients include Harvey Nichols and Dune.
The opening of Lila’s in London is far from Catalina’s first jewellery venture. She has been operating a similar model in Europe for 15 years where she successfully brings together qualified gemmologists and highly skilled jewellers, combined with her own considerable entrepreneurial skills.
The concept is so new to the UK that it requires patient explanation to many of Lila’s customers. “When we engage with our customers and tell them our story, we explain the long process of the pre-owned jewellery to reach our store window: it is sourced, reconditioned, hallmarked, assessed by our gemmologist, registered in a stock management system. We tell them about our aim to keep fair, affordable prices, despite the hard work behind it. And after all this, there is the inevitable customer question: ‘What’s your best price on this ring?’ I always wonder if they ask this in Harrods as well,” Catalina jokes.
Lila’s positions itself as an ethical jeweller in the industry — breathing new life into vintage jewellery, rather than mining for increasingly rare metals and gems. “The majority of the high street jewellers are pretty vague as to the origin of their stones, so we believe that buying new jewellery puts an even greater pressure on the already turbulent mining conditions,” Catalina says. “By re-designing and re-conditioning pre-owned jewellery, Lila’s is giving back to the market and at the same time, relieving some of that pressure.”
And when she’s not reviving treasures from a by-gone era, Catalina hits the open road with her husband Dan, for some much needed escapism and plenty of Harley-induced thrills.
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