Ever wondered how jewellery designers come up with their ideas? What design factors are taken into account (and what commercial limitations there are in place)? Here I aim to give you an idea of my concept-to-product process.
A sunny afternoon in late July is not really the setting one might expect a winter jewellery collection to be conceptualised in but that’s exactly what I was doing this summer.
July is the perfect time for me. Summer is slow on the jewellery components and beads side and I like to stocktake over the summer to ensure everything is ready for the September rush on jewellery making customers. So I close my online shops in late July, take everything I want to use to make jewellery and then frantically make as much as possible for a month before stocktaking and re-opening my shops in September. This lets me get a wide range of items designed and made before my manic sales of the final four months of the year start.
I was sitting outside one very clear morning in July and the clouds were like little fragmented puffs of ice. My ‘Winter Fantasy’ collection is based around those beautifully crisp, clear mornings in winter where the dawn lights up the entire sky in barely-there shades of pink, blue, lilac and lemon with dotted white clouds. Think the morning after snowfall when the sun is glinting off bright white snow and frozen icicles. The ‘Fantasy’ part comes from my love of the magical and whimsical. About half of my collection features unicorns, pegusi, fairies, stars, moons and the like.
Moving from the concept to actual jewellery is a careful process. First I look at the colours and pick out appropriate shades in Swarovski crystal and occasionally, glass beads. I’ve used a lot of crystal AB, light sapphire, aquamarine, light rose, rosewater opal and violet opal among others. Then I look at my Sterling silver components. I sell components in various finishes of silver from very dark antiqued to the bright, almost white silver of very highly polished findings. It was the latter which were incorporated into this range.
Next is design and make. It’s important to get a balance between artistry and retail savviness if you’re depending on sales for a living. I do make art pieces which take many, many hours, but when designing a retail collection there has to be a trade-off between time spent and rewards available (i.e. how much I can sell them for). So a lot of my retail collection are both beautifully simple and relatively quick to make which in turn allows me to keep prices at an affordable level.
I tend to design 2 or three pieces, sort out the quantities I will need to make duplicates and then make up multiples of them. Again, this is a simple matter of economic sense, particularly as all my jewellery is sold through my eBay store. eBay implemented changes for business sellers earlier this year which make selling multiple quantities of the same item far more cost effective and likely to succeed than selling individual items. So most items are made with between 3 and 10 pieces of the same item.
My jewellery ranges tend to centre around necklaces, bracelets and earrings and often I’ll make up matching ranges of necklace, bracelet and earring so a customer can buy a whole set if they wish. I make an average of 20 pieces a day for around 4 weeks. That’s over 500 pieces, all carefully hand crafted in my studio in South Gloucestershire, England.
My jewellery is available online exclusively through my ebay store at www.stores.ebay.co.uk/princess-jewellery. I also sell a large range of beads and findings, many of which went into my current collection, both through my ebay store and through my website at www.princess-jewellery.net.
Sterling silver necklace with Swarovski Crystal
in shades of blue, green and teal.
Sterling silver earrings with fairy drops and Swarovski
crystal hanging from delicate rose-shaped post earrings.
9 Carat yellow gold earrings with 9ct glitter beads
and aquamarine Swarovski crystal.
Sterling silver charm bracelet with Swarovski Crystal beads,
glass lampwork beads and a beautiful fairy charm.