Home delivery

© Written by Rachael Taylor for 71%

While anyone can walk into a high-street store and rent a personal shopper by the hour, not everyone can gain access to the world’s elite tier of personal shoppers – the breed that flies across the world to hand deliver a dress or effortlessly ensures you have a spot on the front row at your favourite designer’s show.

These fashion genies are priceless if you are serious about clothes. But choosing one should be done carefully, as this is a person to allow into your home, your

life, and your innermost desires.

“Engagement is key,” advises Lupe Puerta, global director of VIP client relations at Net-A- Porter. “The close relationships we have with our clients means that our advice is tailored to their needs – whether it’s discussing a look that we know she will love or knowing what time of year she travels.”…

This story was originally published in issue four of 71%, The Superyacht Life magazine. Read the full story here (starts on p18). Continue reading to see magazine layouts.

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Baselworld 2017

I attended Baselworld this year as a VIP member of the press. As well as generating ideas and content for my stories throughout the year, and strengthening existing and forging new relationships, I directly reported on the show for Adorn Insight, compiling a jewellery trends report for its subscribers.

During the show I was interviewed for the widely read Baseldworld Daily News, distributed at the show (continue reading for a layout of the page). I was also quoted in the closing press release for the show (continue reading to see the release).

2016: Review of the year

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller

As we leave behind a year of seismic world events, Rachael Taylor reflects on the global shifts that have yet to fully ripple through the jewellery industry and asks some familiar names what they are expecting from 2017…

Topics covered in this story include:

Double-edged sword as Brexit sparks currency fluctuations

Election of President Trump shocks market

Argos takes Fairtrade gold onto the high street

Peter Andersen leaves Pandora

Plus comment from:

Gary Wroe, managing director, Hockley Mint

Willie Hamilton, chief executive, Company of Master Jewellers

Tobias Kormind, managing director, 77 Diamonds

Guy Burton, director, Hancocks London

Harriet Kelsall, founder, Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

Patrick Fuller, chairman, WB The Creative Jewellery Group

Judith Hart, owner, Judith Hart Jewellers

Stephen Hughes, owner, Stephen Hughes Fine Diamonds

 

This article was originally published in the January 2017 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Read the full story here

Big diamonds are big business

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times

“I could show you my email,” volunteers William Lamb, the chief executive of Lucara Diamond. “I get three offers a week on that stone. I’d love to say we’re going to sell it next week, but we have to find the right buyer.”

Mr Lamb is referring to the Lesedi La Rona — at 1,109ct, the second-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered. Lucara unearthed it, and its attempted sale at Sotheby’s in June 2016 was meant to represent a peak in the market for enormous stones: the first time one had been sold in public. Instead, when bidding stalled at $61m, falling short of an undisclosed reserve — Sotheby’s presale estimate was in excess of $70m — it exposed the risk and the difficulties of the market for outsize gems.

Mr Lamb says there are several reasons he has not yet sold the stone. No actionable offer has yet met his financial expectations — something he attributes to a lack of similar stones setting price precedents. The only gem-quality rough diamond larger was the 3,106.75ct Cullinan Diamond found in 1905, and that was given to Edward VII…

This story was originally published in the March 23, 2017 edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here.

The sweep

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times

In a basement on London’s Hatton Garden, a small production team is heating a furnace to 2,000C – a temperature that will obliterate most materials placed within it. Each day at precious metals refiner Mastermelt, the furnace is fed a diet of everyday objects collected from jewellers’ workshops – full bags from vacuum cleaners, used wet wipes, blunted sandpaper, old carpets, even – in the hope that when the ashes are processed, thousands of pounds of gold, platinum and more will remain.

“We always tell people, don’t throw anything away,” says Gary Williams, a director at Mastermelt, who the previous week paid out £17,000 to a jeweller who had been casually stockpiling the general detritus a workshop produces. “He’d just been saving all this stuff and didn’t realise what it was worth.” Mastermelt makes its money by taking a commission of the value of the scrap metal refined, as well as charging for processing.

It is part of Mr Williams’ job to educate jewellers on the financial rewards of hoarding every waste-attracting object and sending the haul – known as a sweep – to a refiner to be melted down and the precious metals reclaimed. Most jewellers will be astute enough to collect hard scrap, also known as lemel, which includes filings caught in skins hung beneath workbenches for this very reason, or clippings from claws cut to size when setting a diamond in a ring. Once weighed, the value of this scrap can be easily ascertained, and Mastermelt has an app that can be downloaded to give jewellers access to live prices….

This story was originally published in the January 16, 2016, edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here.

Just ring the bell

© Written by Rachael Taylor for VO+

When a defeated Hilary Clinton finally took to the stage the morning after the US presidential election slipped away from her, she addressed part of her concession speech to young girls in the audience: “To all the little girls watching… never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

This message of female empowerment is one shared by Californian jewellery company Stella & Dot, which through home-based flexible sales models has been enabling women in the US, Canada and Europe to find financial independence. Its network of salespeople – or stylists, as the company refers to them – sell the brand’s jewellery and fashion accessories through what it calls social selling, running pop-up trunk shows in their own homes and taking 35% of the total sales values. They can also tap into other women’s networks by encouraging them to become Stella & Dot hosts – this shifts the sales party to the host’s home who, in return for hosting and inviting their own network of friends, will receive vouchers to spend with Stella & Dot (typically £300 per hosting).

Rather than smashing the glass ceiling that Clinton saw as keeping her from the top job, the Stella & Dot model is about gently repositioning the barriers keeping women from work by allowing them to find a balance between earning money and looking after children, for example, or simply topping up a regular but limited income. “When they share their stories, you realise that the key to women’s empowerment is financial independence,” says Stella & Dot co-founder and creative director Blythe Harris, who describes hiding backstage at the brand’s annual stylist conference to hide her tears as the women share their motivations. “Some women use [the money earned with Stella & Dot] to pay for fertility treatments or extra chemotherapy. Some are paying the mortgage while their husbands are off at war.”…

This article was originally written for the January 2017 issue of VO+. Continue reading to see layouts.

Trend spotting at Paris Couture Fashion Week

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Adorn Insight

Last month I took a trip to Paris to see the latest haute joaillerie launches shown during Couture Fashion Week (including the Lierre de Paris collection by Boucheron, shown above). A key focus of my trip was to compile a report on the new collections for jewellery trend analysis business Adorn Insight. Subscribers to the service can find a copy of my report online at Adorn Insight’s website.

Reshaping the luxury of Bond Street

© Written by Rachael Taylor for VO+

Last year was a particularly busy one for Jeremy Morris, as he set himself a challenge that would shake the very foundations his family business was built on. The quandary that he spent so much of 2016 pondering was: just how does one make the ultimate in exclusivity inclusive?

David Morris is a name associated with large and rare gemstones. Much of the British jeweller’s offerings have prices in the stratosphere, and this cloud of privilege has been the cornerstone of the brand since Jeremy’s father David first started his career; just five years after serving his apprenticeship, David sold Richard Burton a heart-shaped diamond necklace as a Valentine’s Day gift for Elizabeth Taylor. The house, from its headquarters on London’s Bond Street, has since created jewels for multiple Bond movies, dressed royalty and celebrities, and has done it all without the need for entry-level collections or commercial bridal lines to prop it up financially.

Yet, as the luxury landscape has evolved in recent years, Jeremy has arrived at the conclusion that so too must David Morris if it wants to embrace the millennial generation – and Jeremy certainly does. And so begins a reshaping of one of the last bastions of old-world Bond Street luxury…

This article was originally written for the January 2017 issue of VO+. Continue reading to see layouts.

Lost civilisations, secret stacking rings and transformable jewels

© Written by Rachael Taylor for JFW

For the winter 2016 issue of JFW magazine I edited three jewellery pages. It was the magazine’s 25th anniversary edition and the theme was secrets. I curated a selection of high jewellery inspired by the mysteries of lost civilisations, created a page dedicated to rings that create the illusion of stacks, and rounded up an edit of jewellery designs that can transform to offer multiple looks or functions. Continue reading and click the links beneath the images for full-sized PDFs.

See it their way

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller

Ethical causes, such as Fairtrade gold, attract zealots. A handful of people that feel so passionately that they can turn a worthy cause into white noise for the rest of us. In the same way the charitable industry is keenly aware of so-called charity fatigue, so those pushing for ethical practices and transparency in the jewellery industry have been met with indifference.

Yet would jewellers feel so disconnected to where their own margins take root if they could see it with their own eyes? This is what a group of British industry professionals put to the test in May by travelling to the Sotrami and Macdesa mines in Peru; remote communities far from the tourist trail.

The biggest zealot that Fairtrade gold has in its camp is Alan Frampton of Cred Jewellery, who has made the roughshod 12-hour drive from Lima through dusty desert terrain to the mountain-top mines 10 times in the five years since Sotrami and Macdesa achieved Fairtrade accreditation. By importing Fairtrade gold into the UK for his own brand Cred as well as others, Frampton has generated US$269,000 in Fairtrade premiums – money that goes directly to supporting these mining communities…

This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Read the full story here

Why jewellers develop new cuts for diamonds

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times

When shopping for jewels, rarely will you be sold a round diamond. Instead you will buy a round brilliant diamond — the additional adjective refers to a cut invented in 1919 by Marcel Tolkowsky, which changed the way diamonds sparkled and how jewellers marketed them. A century later, however, we are witnessing the emergence of a generation of new cuts.

Tolkowsky’s modern round brilliant cut was revolutionary. With 58 facets plotted to ensure maximum light return, it offered a fire and brilliance — that play of rainbow colours and icy scintillation — unrivalled by older cuts. By the mid-century, most new diamond jewellery had moved to this style of faceting, according to the Gemological Institute of America.

The round brilliant remained largely unchallenged until the turn of this century, when price wars caused by the emergence of online-only diamantaires offering rock-bottom prices forced innovation. High-street jewellers with expensive overheads could not compete on price in terms of carat, clarity and colour alone and so manufacturers decided to tweak the final of the Four Cs: the cut. They invented premium-branded stones that promised additional sparkle through extra facets…

This story was originally published in the November 11, 2016, edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here.

How Amazon made its jewellery stock rock

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times

When Julian Exposito-Bader joined Amazon as head of buying for watches and jewellery in the UK, he was baffled: “Like everybody, I used Amazon for lots of things, but I was like — who is buying all these diamonds?”

Amazon UK had been selling jewellery, mostly diamond engagement rings and wedding bands, for five years when Mr Exposito-Bader joined in 2012. The Venezuelan had had a long and varied buying career that included sourcing children’s books for the now-defunct Borders, stationery for WH Smith and food for Marks and Spencer.

But Amazon lacked credibility within the industry. Through a charm offensive over the past four years he has convinced the sector that the site is not just a go-to for budget books and discount electronics, but can also sell jewels worth thousands of pounds…

This story was originally published in the November 11, 2016, edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here.

Judging The Fairtrade Gold Design Awards

I am delighted to announce that I will be a judge for The Fairtrade Gold Design Awards 2017. This is a new initiative created by jeweller Ingle & Rhode to both promote emerging jewellery design talent, as well as introduce this next generation of designers to Fairtrade gold.

I travelled to Peru earlier this year with Cred to visit Fairtrade gold mines at Sotrami (above) and Macdesa and saw with my own eyes what an incredible difference Fairtrade accreditation is making to the lives of the miners, their families and the wider communities. By paying a fair price for the gold (linked to the international gold price) as well as a small premium on top to be invested back into the community (this works out at about £10 per wedding band), artisanal miners can make a good living, instead of just subsisting. Plus, the premium is invested into getting better safety equipment and procedures for the mine, running schools and medical facilities and generally improving living conditions in these beautiful, remote, tough communities.

The Fairtrade Gold Design Awards, supported by the Fairtrade Foundation, are now open for entries. Students, apprentices and those with three years’ or less experience in the jewellery industry can enter, and the brief is to design a Fairtrade gold wedding band, engagement ring or bridal set. There are some great prizes to be won, including work experience, cold hard cash and the chance to see your designs created in Fairtrade gold. For full details on how to enter, head to Ingle & Rhode’s website now.

The award-winning Diamonds With A Story

In addition to my journalistic work, I also partner with companies in the watch and jewellery sectors to provide copywriting services. One of my clients is Pubmarket, an international ad agency that created a global campaign for diamond miner Rio Tinto. The project, called Diamonds With A Story, aims to better equip retailers to explain the origins and heritage of Rio Tinto’s Australian and Canadian diamonds through engaging storytelling.

I have been working on the Diamonds With A Story project since January 2016, and in November 2016 it won the award for Best Communications at the MixB2B Press & Communication Awards organised by MM, the trade journal of the communications industry. Pubmarket picked up a second award that night for its work with global consumer goods group Unilever.

Autumn stories on JewelleryNetAsia

All posts © Written by Rachael Taylor for JewelleryNetAsia

In autumn, I wrote blog posts on global jewellery trends for Hong Kong-based website JewelleryNetAsia. Here are a few of my latest posts.

Why healers and show-stealers are turning to rock crystal

Are lab-grown diamonds trending?

The pin-ups of the animal kingdom

Men are making braver jewellery choices

This sharp new trend has women of all ages heading to the piercing bar

 

Russian artistry, Irish style, ear cuffs and Paraibas

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Jewellery Editor

Here are four of my most recent stories for The Jewellery Editor – a profile of Russian jeweller Ilgiz Fazulzyanov, a look at the jewellery stars of Ireland, a trends piece on the most luxurious ear cuffs of the year, and my account of meeting designer Kat Florence and her impressive Paraiba tourmaline collection.

Russian jeweller Ilgiz F’s flights of fancy

The designers who are redefining Irish jewellery

The evolution of ear wear

Kat Florence’s penchant for Paraibas

Ones to watch

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Platinum Resident

During a year in which 70% of investors lost money – this gloomy overview of the markets in 2015 comes courtesy of data mined by investment app Openfolio – there was one hard-luxury asset that delivered a cash return of more than 130% in a matter of days, on an investment of less than £5,000. It was a watch. Omega’s Speedmaster Snoopy.

The amusingly named chronograph was created by Omega to commemorate a very serious event – the failed moon landing in 1970 by the Apollo 13 spacecraft, following a mid-space explosion of an oxygen tank, and the heroic danger-filled return to earth achieved by its team. As memorably dramatised by Tom Hanks in the 1995 film named after the mission, the astronauts had to navigate around the far side of the moon on limited power, and used the Omega Speedmaster watches they had been issued to assist them.

This contribution to the mission was honoured by NASA, which bestowed the Swiss brand with one of its Silver Snoopy Awards; a silver lapel pin of the iconic cartoon character in full space gear, dished out only to contractors that have delivered “outstanding support that greatly enhanced space flight safety and mission success”…

This story was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2016 edition of Platinum Resident magazine. Read the full story here (from p88) or continue reading to see layouts.

Diamond life

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Platinum Resident

Wealthy followers of fashion have been flocking to Paris to get a glimpse of the latest in haute couture since the 1800s, and for modern collectors with a taste for haute joaillerie, Paris Couture Week, a luxurious spin-off of the French capital’s Fashion Week, now offers a choice opportunity to dip into the world’s most elite jewellery boxes.

Paris Fashion Week has mushroomed since its early beginnings in 1945, when governing body Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, in an attempt to instigate a military-like post-war reform led by a strict set of rules, demanded the presentation of regular seasonal collections from any Parisian house that wanted to brand itself as haute couture. Now the Week spreads over several, with new ready-to-wear designs unveiled in March and September, men’s collections only in January and June, and weeks dedicated to haute couture, fashion’s most premium offering, in January and July.

About half a decade ago, the jewellery houses of Paris realised that Couture Week, a moment when many serious couture collectors are in town, was an ideal time to present haute creations of their own. Now tens of jewellery brands, including Dior, Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget and Boucheron, host private high jewellery launches, one-to-one appointments and exclusive social events during the Couture Weeks, some officially affiliated with Paris Fashion Week, and others unofficially…

This story was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2016 edition of Platinum Resident magazine. Read the full story here (from p48) or continue reading to see layouts.

Perfect symphony

© Written by Rachael Taylor for VO+

Describing the jewellery collections under his control as “narrative, figurative, abstract; like symphonies or sonatas”, Nicolas Bos has perfected the flowing figurative speech you would expect of a creative director of one of the world’s most whimsical brands. But there is steel somewhere beneath the friendly smile too, as Bos has navigated himself to the most unusual position of acting simultaneously as Van Cleef & Arpels’ chief executive.

When we meet in the brand’s Place Vendôme boutique, which has been recently expanded with a 280sqm two- storey extension masterminded by architects Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manju, Bos looks rested and relaxed despite being midway through Paris Couture Week and the taxing schedule that must accompany it. “The good thing with good things is that you never get bored of them,” he laughs good naturedly, as he talks animatedly and in great depth about the Émeraude en Majesté collection on display in a cosy showroom beneath us…

 

This article was originally written for the September 2016 issue of VO+. Read the full story here (from p106) or continue reading to see layouts.

Ancient techniques, modern brooches and traditional pearls with a twist

© Written by Rachael Taylor for JFW

For the Autumn 2016 issue of JFW magazine I edited three jewellery pages. The theme of the issue was ancient arts and retro trends revisited, and so I curated a selection of modern jewellery that has been created using centuries-old techniques, a page dedicated to modern brooches, and classic pearl jewellery styles that have been given subtle twists to bring them up to date. Click the links beneath the images for full-sized PDFs.