Christmas may seem far away, but retailers in Christmas-celebrating countries have literally nothing else on their minds for months before the festive season.
Buying jewelry that they think you will love, thinking about having enough staff for all the extra opening hours, and what about wrapping paper?
But have you ever wondered about going directly to a jewelry designer? Does it sound intimidating? More costly? Difficult, because perhaps you don't know either what you (or the person you buy for) want?
Here are a few tips and reasons you should consider gifting or receiving a very personal jewel this year, directly made by a jewelry designer.
Nicoline van Boven, Kapelle, Zeeland, the Netherlands
I am a jewelry consultant in daily life, and I work with companies worldwide on various topics. Furthermore, I coach several professionals within the jewelry industry, and I have grown very fond of artisans and creatives.
Jewelry creators are often very passionate about their profession. They can go on and on about the jewels they create, and I see how much they love many aspects of their business that you are unaware of as an average person. Buying gemstones, for example, is a joy for many. They fall in love, or better, obsess about specific stones, and they make me smile when I see that obsession taking over the conversation.
Hoogenboom & Bogers fine jewellery
Most designers or jewelry makers work with a collection representing their vision on jewelry and jewelry design, and these collections are often very unique. If you, however, have an idea and would like to adjust one of their jewelry designs to something more...well, "you," they will sit down with you and take you through all options.
My first tip is this: listen to their advice in the purchase -or design process. These are the real experts. They have smaller collections, have poured their heart and soul into it, and know more about every jewel than any jewelry store salesperson ever could (simply because it comes directly from their heart and hands). Yes, they too need to sell. But I also know that they will do everything to create the perfect jewelry piece for you or recommend you from their collection. If they can't make or deliver what you really want, they will tell you. Most will never smear or push you to make the sale. At heart, they are and remain artists.
Maria Glezelli, United Kingdom
One of the more prominent industry trends within the jewelry world is that the big brands become more wanted, swallowing portions of the market that belonged to smaller brands and independent jewelers. Due to the enormous budgets and clever marketing, they ensure that you'll know their names even if you don't know much about jewelry.
Pamela Hastry, Bruxelles, Belgium
Mind you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying jewelry from these brands, but another big trend is the rise in popularity of the independent designer or goldsmith.
We like the idea of personal and personalization, of course, as consumers. Still, there is this increasing interest in craftsmanship and sympathy for the smaller entrepreneurs- the artists, the companies that often have a personal story to share. They have a very different connection with their jewelry and with you.
More often than not, they will want to know more about you or the person the jewel, and they will usually take you to the process.
Personally, I know some designers that send updates about the making of the jewelry to their clients.
Working with a designer directly means you work with the artist directly. There are roughly two ways to purchase jewelry from them; either they create it specifically for you or choose something from their collection. They probably have pieces ready for sale or are happily talking you through their archives to show you what the possibilities are.
I want to emphasize that allowing a designer to design specifically for you is not just a more protracted process but a relatively more costly one too. (mind you, a jewel from a big name or heritage jewelry brand is probably relatively more expensive)
The time spent through the intake (and follow-ups) and the one-of-kind approach ensure you get the genuinely original jewel you find perfect for your loved one or yourself.
But don't think for a minute that their own collections are less personal or less attractive.
I would say; they might even be more enjoyable simply because they have spent so much time of their training and journey as an individual jewelry designer in focusing on how to distinguish themselves with their jewelry designs and usually have one or two solid focal points. You'll see those points reflected in their theme and/or in the finishing touches.
Nicoline van Boven, Kapelle, Zeeland, The Netherlands
Maybe you love animals or flowers. Perhaps you like minimalistic or the opposite; rich, fabulous over-the-top design full of great details, organic or smooth, with diamonds only or with various colored gemstones, the possibilities are endless!
One way to start is by asking friends and family. Do they have a good tip? Another way to seek around is through social media. Instagram is often the most popular social media platform to browse around, but Facebook and other platforms can be also work great.
Do your homework, and reach out to the designer. You obviously want to have some "click" instantly.
Nicoline van Boven
I need to warn you a little: it can become addictive :-) Once you start going to a jewelry designer directly, you might fall in love forever.
Hoogenboom & Bogers
Obviously, there are many goldsmiths and jewelry designers. Not all work directly with a client, and many sell their jewelry through specific websites or work with jewelry stores.
Whether you want to buy a jewel designed only for you or something special from a jewelry designer's collection, you are in for a treat.
In this article, I feature Pamela Hastry, a vibrant and elegant jewelry designer from Belgium who spent the past decade in Paris. She is now back in Bruxelles, where she will open her first boutique soon. Pamela hosts Champagne Gem Talks, where clients can book a two-hour session about (fancy) diamonds, corundum (Sapphires, Rubies..), and opals. She'll soon add more stones to the talks. In these sessions, she'll serve all kinds of Belgian delicacies and champagne. She takes you on a journey by telling fascinating stories based on cultural, religious, and good to know facts. She shows you the stones, and you can choose a specific stone for a bespoke piece of jewelry or walk away with her stunning ready-to-wear collections. I love the elegant approach of Pamela! Pamela speaks American and French, and she is utterly lovely as a person.
Hoogenboom & Bogers are from Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Heleen Hoogenboom works very organically and intuitively, with substantial technical knowledge and a fondness for gold and gemstones. Sanne Boger and Heleen are both pearl queens! They love the luster and the utter femininity of pearls. Mind you, more and more men are choosing pearl jewelry too!
Sanne and Heleen design for their clients in their very own style. If you love their style -and I certainly am a fan- then you are in for a treat! They work with Dutch clients, but they love to work with foreign clients too. Call them or visit their website for more information. The image below is from their collection:
Nicoline van Boven is another Dutch designer based in Zeeland. She works alone, and she has done so for the past two decades. Nicoline can be pretty surprising.
She is a trained artist who knows a lot about costumes and art in general and has developed her own style. Clients drive to Zeeland from Belgium and other parts of the Netherlands, but Nicoline too works with other foreign clients. She is a delight to work with, so committed to delivering the best possible work for her clients, and she will tell you also when she can't do the jewelry you have in mind if she has good reason to. Listen to her advice, and you'll be so happy with the results.
Maria Glezelli and I met in person during the last VicenzaOro show. Maria has a very distinctive style. Maria has a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts and Art Sciences at the University of Fine Arts in Ioannina, Greece. She was born and raised in Athens, Greece but now lives and works in Eye, Suffolk, England. Maria works with gold- and rhodium-plated sterling silver that she personally handknits. Her work is traditional and innovative and will speak to a broad audience as it is light and lovely!
Maria thinks that people will also appreciate the idea of going to an artisan directly, thus preserving tradition and craftsmanship and supporting designers and artisans by doing so. She has a great collection that you'll find in her webshop, but she also works with clients directly on bespoke pieces. Maria came across as warm, gentle, kind, and down to earth, but also: very talented and committed.
These 4 designers are people I all know personally and wanted to share with you. But there are so many lovely people with exceptional creativity and wild, elegant, or simply beautiful jewelry.
Give yourself or your beloved one something different, something even more personal this season. Buy directly from a jewelry designer, artisan, or goldsmith!