Crafted With Love

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Sublime: What is the concept behind What makes you different?

Latestsale: We work with exciting artisans and designers who have been crafting and selling their products successfully in their own home countries for many years, but are seeking new entry into the UK, US or European markets. These manufacturers typically do not mass-produce but make their goods by hand, using specialist techniques. Helping family businesses reach whole new audiences gives them independence and brand equity, supports the communities they operate within, and in many cases helps preserve jewellery-making skills that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Bijou OUIS: What do you aim to offer to your customers that others don’t?
L: Quality is of the essence and along with social awareness, at the heart of everything we do.

We not only source jewellery but we also promote designers. This is central to our corporate ethos and in everything we do. We shortlist only the best of artisan collections and focus on working with a deliberately-restricted selection of designers and artists at any one time, and make their collections available internationally.

We are also stretching the boundaries of ethical fashion and manufacturing beyond fair trade by giving back to the community through, for example, training and learning initiatives.

S: How are the brands selected?
L: Fifty per cent of the brands and artisans we work with are sourced via referrals: business contacts around the world who introduce us to brands and manufacturers who match our company principles well and are truly innovative. Once we have tested the products with consumers we then include them into our portfolio. We have also sourced brands through trips abroad and private introductions. We tend to work with brands and artisans who have unique manufacturing processes or who use unique materials to create bespoke items.

Fire Steel earringsS: Tell us about the brands you currently stock – what are their ethical credentials?
L: Our brands will vary over time, but each comes with its own inspiring story. One example is Olga Margarita, who manufactures eco-friendly jewellery using tagua seeds. These incredible seeds are found naturally in Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia, and have the same texture, hardness, and colours of ivory. That’s why they have been described as ‘vegetable ivory’. Tagua seed jewellery is a perfect substitute for elephant ivory, and helps reduce the demand for the material which, tragically, involves the illegal hunting and slaughtering of elephants. And, of course, the tagua trees aren’t exploited. The seeds fall naturally to the ground, are collected and then dried to create beautiful, unique pieces.

Flamingo earringsThe popular Fire Steel range, meanwhile, uses 316L Stainless steel and eco-friendly manufacturing processes. As well as being hypoallergenic and non-reactive to harsh conditions, 316L stainless steel can be plated using an eco-friendly technique, PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) – a green vacuum coating process that enables the gold to be turned into a fog. This mist is then absorbed into the stainless steel, making a more durable gold finish plating that doesn’t hurt the planet or the skin in any way.

And for another of our firm favourites, the Destino Jewellery collection, much of our amber jewellery is manufactured by crafters in Nepal whose livelihoods are largely tied to the export business. Our suppliers work closely with women’s groups such as the Educational Development of Women of Nepal (EDWON).

S: Who is your ideal customer?
L: A clientèle who shares our passion for ethical shopping, and loves to be inspired by originality and innovation. Customers who are keen to support local communities, social causes and independent, creative enterprises. They can also be keen collectors, whether this be contemporary fine art originals, prints, postcards or greeting cards or, in the case of jewellery, lines Fire Steel, Bijoux? Oui! and Destino Jewellery – that include sets, and mix and match options, at price points to meet any purse, from £30 to £12,000.

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