Love eXcellence interviews Alexandra Robson, the designer and managing director of Augustine Jewels.
- Where did you study and what is your background?
I studied fashion and jewellery design at Esmod School of Fashion in Paris before going to Cambridge University for undergraduate and Stanford University for graduate school. Later I studied diamond grading and gemology at the Gemological Institute of America
- How did you get your business started?
I started by designing bespoke pieces for friends.
- How did you finance your business in the beginning?
I was luckily able to self finance my business in the beginning.
- What were the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge is always making sure that the the quality of production is up to scratch. Everything that we produce is Handmade in England so that we can keep a close eye on making sure that every piece is made to the finest most exquisite quality. We have 3 men that produce for us - for all of them making jewellery is a passion that has been passed from generation to generation. If we produced abroad it would be harder to keep an eye on quality on individual pieces.
- Who or what most influences your work?
Each collection is inspired by a luxury destination - so the cufflinks for example were inspired by the Swiss Alps, our bridal collection is inspired by Venice, our Spring Collection is inspired by the pink and red flowers of Mexico.
- What made you choose your particular medium and why?
I won a jewellery prize when i studied at Esmod and always loved the idea of starting a jewellery business. It was only in mid life that I felt that I had the business experience (having been a Partner at Accenture in Consumer Goods and Retail) as well as the design confidence to start the business.
- Take us through the creation of one of your designs?
We usually travel to a luxury destination to take us away from our normal stimuli. Being in a different location, the creative side is stimulated by new sights, colours and smells and you start to see things differently. We then design some ideas and draw those ideas out by hand using pencil and gouache. When we get back to the studio, the team discuss what would be the most effective pieces to sell.
For a bespoke piece, the design often starts with the actual gemstone. It is the stone that inspires the design.
- What else outside the jewellery world influences you in your work?
Movements in art, architecture, music and design all influence our work. I also love history and so sometimes when we are starting a new collection I will look at the history of that area. For example for the Mexican collections we looked at some of the geometric designs of the Mayan civilisation.
- What aspect of your work gives you the most enjoyment?
Drawing a design and then seeing the beautiful finished product !
- What impact has technology had on your business?
We sell on the internet and so we are very active on facebook, twitter, instagram and pintrest.
- What one luxury can you not do without?
- What actions do you take to keep a certain quality of life?
I love to walk in the countryside or by the river in London.. the more beautiful the views the better for the calming of the mind.
- What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?
We are starting to work with an artist on a new mother and daughter collection for the Spring.
- List some brands, people, works that you consider excellent?
Coco Channel for designing in a way that changed the way that women lived.
Karl Faberge for the attention to detail and craftsmanship that was exquisite.
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