New Zealand designer, Ian Douglas, wanted to create a range of jewellery that went back to basics and that spoke to people about design, quality of materials and craftsmanship and The Inspired Collection aims to do just that. With over 30 years of experience in the jewellery industry, Ian and his team have learned that good designs should inspire, endure and create a positive reaction. We chat with Ian about his journey.
When did you fall in love with creating jewellery?
“I began an apprenticeship in manufacturing jewellery in 1974 at the age of 17 for one simple reason; that I loved making things and in particular designing and manufacturing. Crafting jewellery gave me a great satisfaction and pleasure, seeing items I had created in my mind and then executed by my own hands and finally finding a passionate owner was one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.”
When you were growing up, who were the most significant people in your life?
“I grew up in Wellington NZ, and my most significant influences were my parents. My father was a humble, hardworking man who believed in being loyal, honest and treating others as you’d like to be treated yourself. They are simple attitudes that resonate and form the basis of how I live. My mother was also a talented painter, and admiring her work as a child helped develop my appreciation of the arts.”
"I was determined to create a range of jewellery that was faithful to what jewellery should be; items that inspire the soul, not simply have a price tag.”
What drove you to start your own jewellery brand?
After completing his apprenticeship, Ian went on to work for a jewellery manufacturer and manage a shop, before eventually setting up his own business in Wellington in 1981. “For me, it's all about designing and producing jewellery that is different from what most other people are doing. The idea for The Inspired Collection came from frustration. Frustration, that after 30 years involved in the jewellery industry I was becoming increasingly unhappy with its direction. It seemed that price was becoming the primary factor in the design and production of jewellery, particularly diamond jewellery and ring design. I was determined to create a range of jewellery that was faithful to what jewellery should be; items that inspire the soul, not simply have a price tag.”
What are the core brand values?
"At the heart of all that we do is the integrity of our jewellery and our service, underpinned by expert and friendly advice, innovative design, genuine craftsmanship and care for our customers. This translates into an honest and transparent approach to jewellery design and service."
"I’ve been privileged to create jewellery for royalty, film and sports stars, prime ministers and the super-rich. Whilst that’s flattering, it’s the interaction with all our clients whether they’re students or millionaires, that is the reward."
Who are some of your clients you are most proud of?
“I’m proud that we have such an extensive and varied client base. I’ve been privileged to create jewellery for royalty, film and sports stars, prime ministers and the super-rich. Whilst that’s flattering, it’s the interaction with all our clients (whether they’re students or millionaires) that is the reward. Everyone has a story, a past and a future, and some of my most interesting clients have been those that don’t have a lot of money, but their life experiences are incredibly rich.”
Where do you source inspiration?
“All of our designs start from the heart - a hand-drawn design with pencil and paper. We get inspiration from places we visit, people we meet and from ordinary, everyday situations. Most of our pieces can be described as avant-garde, I think that's what jewellery should do - it should be disruptive; it should create an emotion. It should be provocative.”
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your designs?
“People should be moved by jewellery. I want The Inspired Collection to do exactly that - inspire people, and be objects you fall in love with because of how a particular piece speaks to you personally.”
What has been the highest point of your career as a designer so far?
“I’ve been fortunate to have won design awards, met amazing industry influencers and enjoyed a great career, but it’s the feeling that the best is yet to come that excites me and makes me want to get better as a designer and as a person. The future is the highlight.”
What does the future hold for The Inspired Collection?
“We are working on an exciting project, which we hope to unveil early next year. It’s a new way of clasping diamonds, like a floating stone, where the clasps almost appear invisible. It's very inventive and we think it will excite the market and generate new interest in diamonds. We want to keep challenging the perceptions of what people think is possible. We’re just striving to be the best we can be. Oh, and you have to work your a%*! off.”
The Inspired Collection is available to shop on Jewelstreet here.