So, I thought it would be nice if I showed you some more gorgeous jewellery by Rachel and tell you more about her and her business – which is now in its 20th year. This, we worked out, means we’ve been friends for 23 years which doesn’t make any sense really, because there’s no way that either of us are that OLD!
Anyway, on a very sunny Wednesday, I went along to Rachel’s shop in the small village of Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire, to drink tea, chat & take some photos.
And in true interview 'get to know you' stylee, I prepared some questions for Rachel.
I have been making jewellery now for over 30 years – I started when I was only 16 at a local evening class. I had absolutely no idea back then that I would still be doing it now as my career, of course.
My father ran his own business so the concept of being self employed was ingrained in my family – I always wanted to work for myself as a result. I also think that I knew I would never be happy working for someone else – even as a young child I was always making ‘craft’ items, which I never gave away but always tried to sell to family and friends.
It’s a hard question to answer since each week can be hugely varied in terms of the work we get in. A lot of our work is now centered around creating commission and bespoke pieces, so the quantity and complexity of these tend to dictate the actual number of items. We are constantly busy, however, and always have stock items to replace or duplicate…
All the designs are still made exclusively by me, but the business has now grown to the point where I have help in reproducing some of the pieces for the collection, as well as with certain commissions etc. I now employ a full time goldsmith, in addition to several part-time makers, for their specialist knowledge and input.
A lot of my inspiration has always been, and probably always will be, predominantly from nature. Items such as seeds and the neonatal stages of creatures feature heavily in the collection, as do representations of elemental instances such as water, wind and rock.
I have had many famous people purchase my jewellery, either directly or though their agents / members of their family, over the years. People such as the Queen Mother, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Kim Wilde, Lenny Henry, Amanda Holden’s daughter, Janey Lee Grace, David Walliams, and The Childrens Book Awards have all worn my jewellery, to name but a few.
I have been teaching the art of making jewellery for 22 years now, initially for a variety of schools, colleges and universities. In 2006 I was fortunate enough to find both the space and the opportunity to open my own Jewellery School and have never looked back. I have over 60 full time students, as well as running numerous day, weekend and Masterclass level courses.
Absolutely. We have students of all ages, from 16–80. The courses are equally attractive to all genders, and we have a very healthy mix of both men and women at all levels of study.
Students are guided through the processes necessary to make almost anything they can conceptualise, with many making a traditional selection of rings, bangles, cufflinks and earrings. Our real success story however is our Wedding Ring Making Course, where couples come to make each others’ rings for their, truly unique, special day.
In terms of pure sales, our Daisy pendant is the outright winner – in terms of my personal preference then it must be my Tundra ring, the production process for which is still my closely guarded secret…!
(Click on images for links).
The best aspect must be the creative and expressive freedom it gives me in my life… the worst is that there are simply never enough hours in the day for me to express that creativity as often as I would like, since the day-to-day processes of running a busy and successful business always seem to take precedence.
Dani, who works with Rachel, excitedly jumped on this question and said that she thinks Meghan would choose the Spectacle diamond necklace and bracelet set to complement her engagement ring. And for something more casual, she would definitely go for the Bee necklace (for each Bee charm sold, £10 is donated to Buglife).
My Maelstrom or Pod rings still give me a huge sense of pleasure and satisfaction when I see them, be it simply displayed in the cabinet or on the finger of a happy and satisfied customer.
Before I go, I must mention that you won't find the exact same star necklace I wear as this was made just for me. I know that sounds a bit lardy-di-dah and posh, but actually, along with an extensive range of ‘off the peg’ pieces, Rachel can make whatever your heart & budget desires, so when I wanted a much bigger star than the standard one she'd made, she was happy to oblige.
It's also good to know that she can even use the stones/diamonds from an inherited/older piece of jewellery to make a newer, more contemporary piece that is, perhaps, more your style. Please speak to Rachel or one of her team if this is something you’re interested in as they will be able to advise you in much more detail than I can (obviously!), of what can /can’t be done with certain stones and metals.
Please now feel free to browse the hell out of her website - but a word of warning, you will be completely starry eyed by all the loveliness!
See you soon!