International Women's Day: Meet Our Women Jewellers
There are numerous ways to mark International Women’s Day. Recall the historical female greats. Thank your mum. Raise awareness of pay gaps. Embrace your female friendships. How are we celebrating this year? We’re turning the lens on our very own women jewellers: three young, creative and tenacious talents that deserve to share at least some of the spotlight this International Women’s Day.
Queensmith is proud to have forged a fresh way of creating bespoke jewellery in a contemporary space, within the otherwise historic district of Hatton Garden. Steeped in tradition, it’s probably unsurprising to learn that many of the jewellery workshops in the area (and nationwide) are male dominated, but Monique, Vi and Isla are just three of London’s creatives paving the way for change. The industry is changing, with independent women jewellers becoming some of the most trailblazing in the game, and our trio of talents are here for it. Here are Monique, Vi and Isla’s stories.
As Production Manager, Monique has the vital role of keeping everything ticking over at Queensmith. After specialising in 3D design during her foundation degree and with a natural eye for style, Monique made the natural progression into jewellery, embarking on a Silversmithing, Goldsmithing & Jewellery BA Hons at University for the Creative Arts. After enrolling on The Goldsmith’s Centre’s post grad business start up programme, Monique stayed within the centre creating collection pieces and bespoke commissions for 5 years.
During her time in the industry, Monique has noted positive change, ‘I feel nowadays there’s a great amount of female designers and goldsmiths working in the industry which is amazing! My first experiences of Hatton Garden was that it was very much a male dominated industry and it was a bit of a shock; but this is definitely changing now, thankfully.’
Monique’s jewellery is where zingy and bold meets refined and elegant: it’s power jewellery for a contemporary woman (and you can check it out here). Her distinct designs borrow from industrial architecture, mathematical polyhedron drawings and the iconic work of Wendy Ramshaw - ‘her larger scale works were just as beautiful as her jewellery’.
When it comes to the women that have inspired her career, Monique has her peers to thank - ‘my jeweller and silversmith friends who I trained with are all inspirations to me, everyone has come so far since then! I go to Goldsmith's Fair every year and there are so many fabulous designers there who are top of their game.’ And what does she reckon is takes to carve out a career in jewellery making? ‘Get as much experience as possible. Interning and assisting in workshops definitely helped me. It not only gives an insight into the industry but you create invaluable relationships and contacts which may lead onto other great things.’
Monique’s advice this International Women’s Day? ‘Remember to call your mum.’ Solid.
Vi, one of our treasured Goldsmiths at Queensmith, fell into the industry after childhood dreams of becoming a fashion designer. It was via the persuasions of her mother that Vi decided to enrol on the Glasgow School of Art’s Jewellery Design and Silversmithing BA - ‘mum’s do know best!’. During her time at university, Vi used her tenacity and drive to gain experience, working with various jewellers in the UK and Paris, including her all-time inspiration Evelie Mouila at Maison Margiela.
Like Monique, Vi has noted that whilst women are somewhat under-represented in Hatton Garden, times are a changin’. ‘I feel like the industry is definitely lacking in female jewellers and goldsmiths, especially here in Hatton Garden. On the other hand most of the jewellers I’ve worked with were female. My course was very much girl dominant so I think in the next few years we will see more women in fine jewellery!’
During the day, Vi uses her talents to craft fine jewellery at Queensmith, ‘I love the precision, craftsmanship and attention to detail when it comes to fine jewellery.’ Her spare time is dedicated to her own work, ‘I’m very strongly interested in fashion jewellery and I absolutely love big and bold pieces.’ Her goal is to balance the precision of fine jewellery with the boldness of fashion influences, which she has more than achieved with her stunning collection of earrings and pendants available on her website.
Powered by the support of her mother and sister, Vi’s message this International Women’s Day is one of thanks. ‘Without their constant encouragement and endless support I wouldn’t be where I am! My sister is an ultimate girl boss and my mum is studying at university at the age of 50! They are both so inspiring, strong, and loving. I don’t know what I would do without them.’
Isla’s creative passion began with a desire to pursue a career in interior design, however, after a taster session for a Jewellery and Metalwork course at university, realised her suitability for designing and crafting jewellery. Since the start of her career, Isla has been surrounded by inspirational women jewellers and designers, from her university tutors, to those she follows on social media, and the company she keeps today.
This International Women’s Day, Isla wants to spread the message that boundaries are made to be pushed, and glass ceilings to be smashed - ‘all I can say for international women's day is that you can do anything you want. Literally anything. Don't worry about other people if you want to pursue a career in a male dominated field. That's something that's only going to change with time and people taking that chance.’
Although Isla is currently taking a break from her own work, whilst she embarks on her full time goldsmith role at Queensmith, her passion and creativity remains as fresh as ever. ‘In my own work I like to create movement, taking inspiration from nature, but with simplified forms. I always start my design process by doing loads of sketches and studies of anything that catches my eye, and then translating it into paper models, and then metal.’
Any tips for aspiring jewellers? ‘If you want a career in Jewellery, whether that's in design or being a goldsmith, just practice and learn all the skills you can. And then grab every opportunity, because you never know where it might take you.’