Jewellery designer Annoushka Ducas talks creativity, colour and emerging British talent….
What first attracted you to jewellery design- have you always been creatively minded?
I almost came in to jewellery design by accident. Although I always had an eye for aesthetics, it wasn’t until my mother who supplied fish to restaurants in London asked me to come up with an idea for a gift for 60 of the top chefs. I designed my first piece of jewellery - a pair of humorous fish cufflinks!
Many might be surprised to hear you’re not trained as a traditional jeweller - how did you learn your craft and what advice do you have for others starting out in the industry?
I spent long summers in the studio of our great sculptor friend in Tuscany where I must have absorbed the subliminal understanding of the making process of casting and of the way that pieces are formed and how they feel to the hand. Other than this, I had had no formal jewellery design training. I built on what was an instinctive sensibility to a more conscious, decision-making design process, often driven, for me, by the practicalities of wearing jewellery. Over the years, I have learnt to rely on my ability to describe the visions in my head in detail to my craftsman. So my advice - everything is possible.
The organic materials featured in your pieces give a unique, energised feel to luxury - can you describe the kind of woman you design for?
I think I really design pieces that I would really like to wear, so that is my starting point – but my clients are self-assured; the vast majority are independent and well travelled, with a confident sophistication. There is no doubt that jewellery that is designed for women, by women feels and looks very different to jewellery designed by men and I think this is why so many of our clients are women buying for themselves. I think most of our clients are women that are more interested in style than fashion.
You began creating in Hong Kong - what was it about the city that inspired you?
My travels have always been a key source for my inspiration in designing fine jewellery. Intoxicating cities and magical landscapes, along with my love of art and interest in foreign cultures definitely influence my collections. Hong Kong specifically is a city so full of multicultural diversity, history and beauty, that you can’t help but be inspired.
Your love of colour is evident in your designs - what are some of your favourite shades and why?
I prefer to work with yellow gold and warm coloured gemstones as they reflect my personal style and the character of the stones gives life to the jewellery. Colours that can be worn together yet can equally be worn alone as a stand out piece to complete an outfit are the most attractive to me.
Can you tell us about your most treasured piece and the story behind its creation?
I have a number of pieces that I wear all the time, but one of my favourites is my Spinning globe amulet – which is very tactile and is a constant reminder of how much more of the world I want to go to!
In 2012 you were awarded an MBE for your services to British Jewellery - why is it so important for you to nurture and support emerging talent?
Having started out on my own in the world of jewellery design, with little experience or specific training, nurturing creativity is something very close to my heart. It is so important to me to put back into the industry, and I believe that partly due to the incorporation of guest designers, that Annoushka has become one of the most creative jewellery companies in the UK.
What does 2016 hold in store for you?
2016 is hugely exciting. We have a number of collections launching in the new year which i cannot wait to share with you. In February i am looking forward to speaking at the V&A. I will also continue our support of Give A Future, a charity very close to my heart which provides a micro financing programme for women in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.