I am a big believer in fate and I think that's why I met my business partner, Robert. Some things are just meant to be.
I recently listened to a very interesting pod cast on SheerLuxe about the founder of Annoushka jewellery, a gorgeous fine jewellery brand which I have always admired. Annoushka Ducas began her jewellery career with Links of London (which she sold in 2007) and in 2009 launched Annoushka. Annoushka’s journey started when her mother asked her to help source gifts for 60 chefs whilst she was working in Hong Kong in property. Annoushka had no formal jewellery training (as I understand) but as it turns out passion and a vision.
Similar to Annoushka, I have no formal jewellery training nor prior experience in the fine jewellery world (just an obsession with diamonds ever since I can remember). I recently completed my GIA diploma to further my knowledge and understanding of stones however my journey officially began a few years ago by helping one of my best friend’s boyfriends source and design her engagement ring. I will never forget it. With the help of my cousin whom worked in the diamond trade in South Africa, we made a beautiful oval diamond ring. From here, one ring turned into 2 which before I knew it became 10. I then went onto design pieces for everyday; little sparkly trinkets that were very well received by friends and family. I held a few pop-ups and trunk shows to test my product further. During this process (and after leaving my 9-5) I was told to speak to 'Robert', my now business partner.
Prior to this game changing meeting, I was fortunate enough to have spent the previous 6 years working for a family that are extremely well respected in the property world, they really are a big deal – I learnt a huge amount from sales to marketing, the significance of understanding a client, and the importance of attention to detail. I have Lisa and Laurence to thank for that. Thank you. After reading my big bosses’ autobiography, I asked Mr Ronson for one word that he attributes his success to – his answer ‘perseverance’. That’s one for all of us.
After tracking Robert down, it turned out there were many weird and wonderful connections. One of which - an engagement ring that belonged to Lisa (my old boss) a ring I spent many an hour gazing at (often losing track of where I in a meeting because of it) was in fact made by Robert. All I will say is: eat-your-heart out Blake Lively. Sorry, I digress, (and yes, I still think about your ring Lisa) after working on a few pieces together, we progressed into developing ‘Roxanne First’ further. Fate. Robert has been in the game for over 40 years, with a hugely successful business designing and making beautiful pieces of fine jewellery. In my opinion (and quite a few others), he's the best in the business. Robert has been a total ‘game changer’ for Roxanne First and without his kindness, knowledge and support Roxanne First wouldn’t be.
Robert’s studio (and where I am based) is tucked away in London’s famous Hatton Garden. Hatton Garden is a pretty fascinating part of town, with over seventy jewellery shops and nearly three-hundred jewellery businesses, it is still the largest jewellery quarter in the country. In recent years, as the creative industries have set up camp, it has fuelled the growth of the vibrant Leather Lane Market, which now houses some of London’s best street food. I get my coffee every day from the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (I know, mega trendy) but they do make a mean flat white. And despite Hatton Garden being pretty ‘cool’, it’s rich history can be found around every corner, along cobbled streets and in Medieval yards. Hatton Garden has royal roots stretching back to the area’s namesake, Sir Christopher Hatton, who in 1581 was gifted the property of Ely Place by Elizabeth I. It’s association with the jewellery trade dates back to Medieval London. I recently found out that Hatton Garden was home to the invention of the machine gun, it’s creator – Sir Hiram Maxim had a small factory here in 1881 and it’s from there that the very first machine gun was produced, being able to fire 666 rounds per minute (today; a single barrel gun can achieve 3000 per minute, a fact I’d rather not know quite honestly).
Hatton Garden is no stranger to some scandal. The most shocking (in my opinion) the death of Lady Elizabeth Hatton. On one evening in 1926, Lady Hatton had been seen out dancing with an unidentified man. In the early hours of the morning, in a yard just off Greville Street (where my office is), Lady Hatton’s dismembered body was found strewn upon the cold cobbled ground, her heart still beating in her chest (TMI? Sorry!). The yard came to be known as Bleeding Heart Yard, where many believe her ghost still aimlessly wanders the cobblestones. A number of robbies are probably more well known.. One being in 1993, where £7 million worth of gems were stolen from Graff’s workshop, at the time qualifying as London’s biggest jewellery robbery. The robbers were named ‘The Rascal Gang’ after the Bedford Rascal vans they used to flee the scene. And the second, believed to be of the largest in British history was the 2015 Hatton Garden jewellery Heist. On Easter Weekend a gang of elderly criminals (yes, the ring leaders were seventy-seven, sixty-nine and sixty-three years old) drilled into the vault of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit. Members slid through a tight hole (so Oceans 11) to empty 73 deposit boxes: where diamonds, precious stones, jewellery and money were taken with an estimated value of £35 million.
Pretty nuts, right?