Raw Gemstone Jewellery is known for bridging the gap between fashion and fine jewellery designs. Founded back in 2016 by British designer Sophie, she tells us more about how she finds inspiration for her jewellery creations and takes us behind the scenes with her manufacturing techniques! 

How did your brand begin?

I have always had the desire to combine my three loves: nature, crystals and jewellery. I believe that spending time in natural surroundings is healing for our body and soul. I am fascinated with the healing properties and folklore associated with gemstones and spend any spare time I have learning more about these topics.

In 2016, I was searching for a jewellery brand that captured the raw essence of gemstones rather than the highly faceted stones that are prevalent in the marketplace. I could not find what I was looking so I established Raw Gemstone Jewellery (formerly Ikigai Apparel). I wanted to give customers jewellery as unique as them, made with love and positive affirmations. I was still working as a police officer at the time and the business suddenly took off so before I knew it, I had left the Police and made my dream a reality.

When did you first fall in love with designing and knew you wanted to become a designer?

I was not confident at all when I started out. I had a tiny budget and a very small collection of pieces. My first customers (who are still shopping with me today) were my former colleagues from the police service. As soon as I saw their reaction to what I was creating, I was addicted to designing and I knew this was what I needed to do with my life. There is nothing quite like creating completely one-off pieces and seeing someone just know that is the piece for them. I loved seeing their awe and fascination when they looked into a beautiful piece of aquamarine for example.

Values are really important to us at JewelStreet. What are your core brand values? 

Our core brand values are:
All of our crystals are ethically sourced.
Fairtrade manufacture, all our manufacturing takes place in one workshop in Thailand where our team receive fair pay, works sensible hours and also has a pension system.
Staying true to our ethos of making unique and individual pieces.
Producing high-quality work at affordable prices.
Always ensure our customers are happy! I am so proud of the fact that we have retained so many of our beautiful customers who have chosen to come back to us time and time again.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?

First and foremost, our inspiration comes from the crystal itself. I can hold a crystal in my hand and just know what it needs to become immediately. Sometimes less is more so I never want to over-engineer the crystals we work with. I like to embrace their free-form nature, not force them into a ready-made setting.

I spend a lot of time in the forest with my children foraging for wild berries and garlic, teaching them about the trees and the medicinal properties of flowers and leaves. Natural formations in the forest inspire my work and that is why I always lean towards lots of hues of green in my work - raw emerald, green tourmaline and peridot to name a few.

I spend as much time on the beach as I do in the forest and this is where I draw inspiration for my sea-inspired work with aquamarine and pearls for example. We are always creating new pieces and working with new stones!

How are your products made?

We start with cleaning and semi-polishing the gemstones just enough to capture their essence. We then use a very individual technique of electroforming. All of our work is carried out by our artisan jewellers in Thailand and the work is carried out almost completely by hand.

Are there any specific manufacturing/crafting techniques you use?

We use a very unique technique called electroforming. Traditional electroforming uses conductive copper metal to turn natural components into jewellery by building up layers of metal around them. We originally used this technique for our Folia and Seashell collections and then started to develop the technique for gemstones. We are proud to be one of very few designers in the UK to electroform in sterling silver. My desire was always to create a high-quality product that would stand the test of time and we have achieved this.

Our latest collections, available on JewelStreet, are now electroformed and made in a base metal of sterling silver. Some of our pieces remain as sterling silver and some are transformed into gold and rose gold vermeil pieces. Our work is now hallmarked; a huge achievement!

Can you recall a particular moment with a client that will stay with you forever? Could be a funny horror story or a fond memory.

I met one of my most memorable customers at Om Yoga Show, she was so taken with my work she just had to have it it all, so she did! The only trouble is, her husband was floating around at the show and she knew she would be in trouble if he saw how much she had bought. This lady purchased 18 items from me and then put every single piece on, she gave Mr T a run for his money that day. She swore her Husband would not notice and he didn't, but every woman at the show gave her a second glance! Possibly one of the funniest customers I have had...

How do you want someone to feel when they wear/use your designs?

I want our customers to feel completely unique and individual. I have never been a lover of fashion trends and I certainly never want someone to be wearing what I am, and this translates into my work. Although we sometimes replicate the same pieces, no two will ever be the same and that is the beauty of our work.

Do you work with any charities?

We like to work with a local charity every year at Christmas. We cannot afford to offer huge promotions over the Black Friday weekend so instead, we donate 10% of our profits to our chosen charity over this weekend. We also love to donate some of our work to small charities throughout the year.

Do you have any exciting future plans and where do you see your brand in 5 years?

We have so many exciting new designs to release over the next 5 years. We would like to undertake more bespoke design work using precious gemstones for engagement, wedding and eternity rings.

I also hope to grow the brand as we are still very small. We would love more people to know about our work! We also hope to work with more influencers over the coming years to promote our brand. It has taken me a long time to get our product just right so we are now ready to embrace all the exciting opportunities that are coming our way!

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

If there is a doubt, there is no doubt.

If you could travel to one place in the world right now, where would it be and why?

Without a shadow of doubt it would be Thailand, to see my beautiful team!

What drew you to JewelStreet?

The JewelStreet team have totally embraced our work and there are not many designers on JewelStreet doing what we do. We feel JewelStreet customers understand the work we do and have an appreciation for its unique, handmade essence. I think JewelStreet customers are looking for something that no one else is wearing so it is the right space for us!

How do your brand values align with those of JewelStreet?

JewelStreet value honesty and honesty is at the core of our values. We are very honest about what we produce, how and where we produce our work and that means that you know exactly what you are buying. Transparency is everything to me because I never want a customer to feel unsure about what they are buying from us. I want our customers to feel invested in our work and our techniques and know that they are buying something very special.

If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?

Our gorgeous triple rings are my absolute favourite. They are a statement ring but so very comfortable to wear, they simply float on your hand and are not imposing at all. Everyone will notice your ring. I say this to all my customers and they think it's me selling my work but it's not! The amount of customers that come back to me and tell me how many compliments they receive tells me we are getting it right.

What is your favourite quote?

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" Anna Wintour.  I have referred back to this quote time and time again when I have felt like a square peg in a round hole and it reminds me to embrace who I am, not fit the status quo. I have this in a frame in my office because it reminds me of the core of my work which is to help my gorgeous customers embrace their natural beauty, shine and stand out from the crowd!

Thank you for talking us with us Sophie!

Discover natural crystal designs with Raw Gemstone Jewellery on JewelStreet!