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Why I’ll never allow my business to be seduced by fast fashion

If you ask me, you help people buy jewellery – you don’t “sell” them it. Customers often come into my stores with an idea of what they want – usually it’s for someone else – and you have a responsibility to stay true to the spirit of that.

Because here’s the thing with jewellery: people keep it forever. I’ve had beautiful, stylish women in their late twenties beg me to do whatever I can to fix a tiny silver ring their mother gave them when they were 14. Just last week, a woman came into one of my stores asking if a stud earring could be replaced. Her late husband had died four years previously and they were a gift from him. She had worn them everyday and to have lost one was completely devastating.

There are trends in jewellery but because of how people feel about their jewellery and why they buy it, it really transcends fashion. It is loved and treasured for a lifetime, which is rare these days.

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To a large extent, jewellery isn’t part of the fast fashion industry. Whether you’re working with CAD or you’re carving, pieces take time to craft and although I do design two collections a year, I often improve on items each season. We’re kind of like shoes in that respect, we keep perfecting our work, adding to and changing it like a fantastic recipe that just gets better and better. At the heart of each design there is a lot of love.

My opinion of fast fashion is that I hate it. It’s driven by who’s wearing what that week and as a creative person I don’t think we should all look the same – whether it’s in to copy Kim Kardashian or Kate Middleton. I love it when people have an individual look, it’s so much more interesting. Obviously I love fashion, but fast fashion is very slavish.

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When it’s teenagers experimenting or trying to look like their favourite pop stars, it’s harmless and a bit of fun. However, I think it’s shocking when adults are copying someone as blindly consumerist as Kim Kardashian who just wants more and more in world where many have less and less. We need to address the ethical issue here.

A few years ago, huge statement necklaces were very popular and you do think, “should I stop what I’m doing and do those instead?” But there’s no integrity or artistry in that. You have to stay true to your vision and fast fashion doesn’t let you do that. I’m not old-fashioned, I’m just not into making things that are supposed to be disposable. It is important in jewellery that your products mean something to your customer and happily, ours do.

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