Having written hundreds of articles for the likes of Vanity Fair and the Financial Times, it’s fair to say Maria Doulton knows a thing or two about luxury jewellery. We chat to Maria about how she went from growing up across central America, to living in London and becoming co-founder and editor-in-chief of global online luxury jewellery magazine, The Jewellery Editor. And of course, we get to delve into her fascinating and very personal jewellery collection.
Jewellery is a journey
Maria Doulton stepped into the wonderful world of luxury jewellery later on in her professional career, after a successful career in design management and then later at a magazine specialising in luxury watches. “My first career was in corporate identity where I was doing design management on big rebranding projects.” At the time Maria and her husband were living in Mexico, but the arrival of their son, Theo, prompted her to look for a less client facing career, so she could be more in control of her time. “I had a friend who was setting up a watch magazine, and I went to help him.” Maria’s knowledge of watches then may not have been indepth, but she certainly knew her stuff when it came to clocks. “My dad has a couple of carriage clocks and grandfather clocks. We’ve moved around the world quite a bit and the clocks have always moved with us. The first thing that would happen when we came to a new house is the clocks would all have to be levelled, set and wound.”
Whilst working at the watch magazine, Maria’s husband got a job in England and so the family relocated to London. Not long after settling in, it dawned on Maria that there were only a few women writing about watches. “I started writing about watches for the Financial Times and specialised watch magazines, and that naturally morphed into jewellery.”
"Jewels have so much history, not just in the design but what they represented at the time and the aspirations they embodied."
For Maria it’s the journey that jewellery takes that is most fascinating; from being mined, which is riddled with ethical issues, right through to the design process and the final product. “It’s a whole journey and a whole world. Every day I’m learning and discovering new things, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Jewels have so much history, not just in the design but what they represented at the time and the aspirations they embodied. Most people have a piece of jewellery and it’s something that either they’re hoping and dreaming about, or it marks something special in their life. I think it’s a really interesting side of social history set forever in something precious.”
Growing up across Central America
Maria’s childhood was spent growing up across central America, from Costa Rica and Guatemala to Uruguay and Mexico. Her father travelled a lot for work and this exposed Maria to a multitude of cultures, many of which still have strong traditions of making things by hand, and this is where Maria got her respect and interest in craftsmanship. “My mum loves collecting things, and she would just go and look for a specific type of embroidery in a very remote village or she would take us to see a glassblower who used a unique technique, so that’s where I got my understanding and appreciation of things being made by hand. Because of that I always thought that everything was made by hand!”
“I always thought everything was made by hand!”
Over 150 articles for the Financial Times
Studying Spanish, Portuguese and History at King's College, London, Maria never planned for a life in journalism. But after working on her friend’s watch magazine, Maria became so interested in jewellery that writing about it happened incredibly naturally and she soon became a well-respected freelance journalist writing about jewellery and watches. And the list of publications she has written for is rather impressive, from over 150 articles for the Financial Times, to covering the jewellery section for Telegraph Luxury and Vanity Fair.
The first luxury online magazine for jewellery
Maria started The Jewellery Editor in 2010 with her business partner, Christine Pasquier, after they met on a press trip. “Christine was doing the PR for Jaeger Lecoultre and I was a journalist. I was the first journalist she took on a press trip and that was actually my first press trip. We thought ‘this is easy’ and we just instinctively knew that we would work well together.” Pointing down to the stacks of coffee table books neatly placed in her West London home, Maria wanted to recreate the beautiful photography and stories about jewellery that were in these books, but online. “We felt there was a real need to take the world of jewellery and watches online, because there was simply nothing. The jewellery world has been very slow to adapt digitally. There was no one specifically covering jewellery in a really beautiful, elegant and luxurious way.”
"We’ve got over 700 designers listed on our website and one of us knows them either personally or is very familiar with their work.”
For two years they were a team of two, with Maria writing every article and loading every image. “It was a lot of work, but it’s good because now I really understand the process.” Now a team of seven, plus multiple freelancers, Maria and Christine have grown The Jewellery Editor organically from nothing, to a global jewellery hub with a reach of over 2.8 million. “We’re very actively involved in everything that we do, so there’s a real personality behind The Jewellery Editor. We’re real people and we really go and see the jewellery. We’ve got over 700 designers listed on our website and one of us knows them either personally or is very familiar with their work.”
"Jewels are made for enjoyment so you have to really understand how people experience them.”
Going out and meeting the people behind the incredible jewels is paramount for Maria. “It’s super important to be out there and seeing everything because that’s what really makes the difference; to have the experience of trying on that pink diamond or that emerald necklace, and talking to the people who designed it and mined the stones. Jewels are made for enjoyment so you have to really understand how people experience them.” When she’s not out meeting designers or cycling into central London for meetings, Maria is sat firmly at her desk writing. “I think it’s very important to still write because it’s the only time where you really focus on something and absorb information."
Experiencing the Queen’s jewels
Over the past six years, Maria has been exposed to some of the world’s most magnificent jewels, but none have compared to one particular exhibition. “For the Queen’s Jubilee she had an exhibition at Buckingham Palace with a huge selection of her diamond jewellery and the Crown Jewels. It was amazing. Without doubt, the most memorable collection of jewellery I have seen. You see her on the television wearing it, but to be able to actually see it real life and see the size of the diamonds was amazing. That was a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“I was wearing several million dollars’ worth of jewels!”
It seems to us that Maria has, quite possibly, the best job in the world; seeing and trying on some of the most incredible jewellery from the world’s biggest jewellery houses, such as Graff and De Beers. “Siegelson is a New York specialist in antique jewellery and he had a Golconda diamond, and I was there just trying it on along with a massive ring. I was wearing several million dollars' worth of jewels!”
"It’s boring to wear the same thing all the time”
We were very excited to get the chance to take a peek inside Maria’s jewellery box. Her collection totalled around 30 pieces, from a ring she made herself to some incredible pieces of jewellery gifted to her by her husband. Whilst many of us will stick to a select few pieces of jewellery for day-to-day wear, that is much too boring for Maria. “I change my jewellery all the time, I never wear the same thing day after day. I like to chop and change a lot. It’s boring to wear the same thing all the time!” And this mantra even applies to her wedding ring. “I’m terrible, I don’t even wear my wedding ring or my engagement ring, but my husband doesn’t mind and he’s usually the one that gives me another ring to wear, so it’s his fault!”
“I’m terrible, I don’t even wear my wedding ring or my engagement ring"
Maria’s husband is a jewellery lover’s dream; “He never asks me he just buys what he wants.” For her birthday, he gave her a beautiful pair of earrings by Boghossian, and then decided to treat her to the full set. “A few months ago I was cooking hamburgers and he put a box down and I said ‘what’s that?’ and it was a matching ring! Another time whilst away on a holiday to Greece, he said he was going out to buy some rice and he was taking ages and I was so cross. Turns out he had gone to buy me a pearl ring, which is so cute and I wear it all the time.”
Asking Maria to choose her favourite jewellery designer is like asking a child to pick their favourite toy. But one designer she mentioned is Fernando Jorge. She owns a couple of his designs but there was one particular pair of earrings by him that she couldn’t seem to get her hands on. “I thought they were amazing so I featured them everywhere, I was totally obsessed with them. There was a big event and I said to Fernando ‘do you think you could lend me those earrings?’ and he said ‘no because they’re sold’. I was gutted. Anyway, a couple months later they appeared, and it was actually my husband who had bought them. He had kept them in his sock drawer for like 4 months. I couldn’t believe it!” Fernando really captures the spirit of the moment and his pieces are quite fun.” Other firm favourites include French designer Lydia Courteille, Brazilian designer Carla Amorim and London brand Robinson Pelham.
Bigger and greater things
So what does the future hold for Maria Doulton and her jewellery empire? “The fact we’ve claimed a niche and a voice in this area is a big incentive to keep going and build it to the next level, to try and take it to bigger and greater things. I don’t know how many more years it will take for it to be the global success we want it to be, but we’re certainly just taking it bit by bit."