On the Journal this week, we talk to the designer Rachel Shaw, founder of one of the country’s most exciting new jewellery brands, RUIFIER.
What lead you to beginning to work with jewellery?
From a young age I’ve always loved to draw and had a passion for art. It was while I was studying at Central Saint Martins that I discovered my love for jewellery design, I love that it’s such an amazing art form, not only are the details and materials incredible, but it’s art that people really interact with. It’s often sentimental to them and I love that it’s something that becomes so personal and important to them.
Who do you envision wearing your work? Do you think about this when you work on designs?
Of course, I know the person who wears RUIFIER is looking for innovative design and very high quality. It’s also someone who likes to enjoy fashion and jewellery, so I know they’ll appreciate being able to adapt pieces and wear them in different ways. I try to imagine them wearing my designs when I’m developing them, they are an important part of the process.
How do you approach a new collection? Where do your ideas evolve from?
I think creating a new collection is a combination of different aspects, I think about what my customers are looking for, what they would find interesting, where they would wear the pieces and what would they would enjoy wearing. I take my inspiration and together with this create designs I believe they would love to wear.
I get inspiration from a variety of different places, from architecture and natural landscapes to my dog, Taiki, who provided the inspiration for the Visage line. He makes me smile so much that I wanted to create something that did the same for wearers of the jewellery. I think inspiration is all around you if you open your eyes to it.
How do you define luxury?
For me, luxury is a combination of different things, from the best materials and craftsmanship to exceptional design. It’s also the feeling a product gives you, the service and the packaging, every aspect of the experience should make you feel like you’re getting something special.
What materials and techniques do you favour?
I do tend to work with precious metals and precious and semi-precious gems. I have collections in sterling silver, 9ct and 18ct gold, I think it’s great to have a variety and different materials work better for different designs. I also love to work with different techniques, I think it’s what keeps the designs innovative, whether it’s interlocking designs, stone cuts or settings, I’m always looking for new ideas.
What’s your favourite jewellery piece you own?
I wear my Visage Friends bracelet every day, I think it goes with every outfit, but mainly because it makes me smile! I can stack it with more or just simply on its own. If I want to add a bit of sparkle for a special occasion then I love the Visage Premiere Rings, they have a subtle expression and glitter in precious gems.
What advice would you give jewellery designers?
I think the most important thing is the combination of staying true to your designs, but also making them wearable. I always try to make sure that my designs are pieces that are comfortable to be worn and are suitable for different occasions.
How long does each piece take to create from start to finish?
The design process can vary, sometimes the first sketch can be the final piece, others are tweaked and developed until they’re perfect. It can then take around two months until we have the final pieces, depending on the design.
How do you go about creating a new piece? We’d love to know about your design process—choosing materials, design development, how the team works to do this?
I look after the whole design process, starting with moodboards of inspiration and ideas, shapes and colours, these are then translated into sketchbooks full of my initial designs. I look at stones and colours which will work best and then all of these are developed and edited into the final designs, making sure that all the pieces in each collection sit well together. Once I have the first samples it’s really important to me to check that my design has been achieved, that it looks good from all angles and is comfortable to wear as well as being true to my original design. Once any final changes have been made the designs are ready to be added to our collection.
Take us through your "typical" day at the office.
Each day in the office is different, at the moment I’m working on developing our new designs for next season, which is exciting, so I’m spending a lot of time sketching and refining designs. I also work very closely with the team, so I’ll have meetings throughout the day about social media, the website, PR or events coming up. It gets busiest before Fashion Weeks, where we show our new collections, because of the displays, new collections and everything that needs to be organised, and of course the big times of year, like Christmas, are always busy.
What is your career highlight so far?
There have been so many, I’m always proud when I see RUIFIER in some of the best stores and magazines around the world, or when a celebrity, like Zoe Saldana, Reese Witherspoon or Ellie Goulding, is seen wearing our jewellery. Of course one of the best things as a designer is to see customers' reactions and the way my designs make them smile!
Shop the playful collection of Rachel’s designs for RUIFIER online here or at any of our London stores today.