The personal touch
Charlotte Pearson finds out that when it comes to bespoke jewellery the possibilities are endless.
Monkey cufflinks and earrings resembling a snowflake from the Disney film Frozen are not the usual requests you would expect to create as a jewellery designer.
“It is always interesting when people request designs,” reveals Holly Richardson, director of HR Jewellery Designs.
“I make sure my commissions are one offs, people don’t want to be wearing something everyone else is, they want more unique pieces.”
Featuring her own collections on the website, Holly admits many people put in requests to add their own twists to the pieces.
“The website is a bit of a showcase,” she explains. “It shows people what I can do and gives them a feel of my work.
“I have had requests from people to add stones and little details to necklaces and rings.
“Or people will buy something from one of the collections and then will come back to me and ask for a commission which is really nice.”
Holly’s interest in jewellery started when she was in school and after she left she went straight into working in a jewellery shop.
“I worked on the sales floor but would spend most of my time downstairs in the workshop,” she recalls.
“In many high street shops though where you start is usually where you finish, so if you start on sales you stay there.
“But I did want to learn so started working on the bench.”
Moving down from Manchester to Portsmouth with her Navy husband, Holly felt there was a need for more bespoke jewellery, and opened up Plush Jewellery in Chichester with a colleague.
“Then in 2011 everything came to a head, the rent was going up, I was pregnant with twins so we both decided to close the shop and go online,” she reveals.
“But I missed doing it, so I took the decision in 2014 that I would start up my own business I could fit around having two young daughters.”
Talking to Holly it is clear that, although she loves creating her collections, her passion is for commissions.
“I love doing them, getting to meet people, finding out their likes and dislikes,” she enthuses, “then using that information to create something beautiful.
“Some people know exactly what they want, such as the gentleman who requested the snowflake earrings.
“We made a wax mould which when the metal is poured in it disappears, this means there is no master for it, it is one of a kind.
“Whereas others just say I like Nouveau.”
What seems to surprise people when talking to Holly about designs is what can be done.
“There are so many possibilities,” she adds. “I send the client sketches and I often get back ‘I didn’t even think you could do that’.
“I did a wedding ring recently where the groom wanted a black one, so I used a matte rhodium.
“I have also done ones where you can have your fingerprint or even someone’s handwriting engraved in a ring.”
Another trend Holly has witnessed is remodelling rings previously owned by family members.
“It is such a privilege to work on something like that,” smiles Holly. “Many people have pieces of jewellery they never wear so I get a lot of people bringing in their mum’s, nan’s or great-grandmother’s pieces.
“I did a piece for one woman where I used a number of different items, melted the metal down and made a necklace.
“I also created some earrings and managed to match the stones clarity and colour to the rubies of her family’s jewellery.”
Using a workshop in Nutbourne, Holly works with another jewellery maker who helps her with the larger jobs.
“It has taken me about a year to find someone I can give my designs to who won’t change them,” explains Holly. “I design, start and finish the jobs and make any tweaks.
“I am very precious about my work, and once a design has been okayed by the client that is what they expect to see at the end.
“So I have to make sure it is exactly what they want and what I have designed.”
Holly also uses a specialist stone setter and has a ‘great’ stone merchant.
“I love when I get the packages in the post full of sparkles,” she smiles.
If it is unusual and unique, or something a bit more traditional Holly is certainly the woman for the job.
To view Holly’s work and for more information, visit www.hrjewellerydesigns.co.uk
February 5, 2016 Fashion and Beauty