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My Herts Life: Harriet Kelsall

PUBLISHED: 12:43 09 June 2014 | UPDATED: 12:43 09 June 2014

Harriet Kelsall at work in her studio

Harriet Kelsall at work in her studio

Archant

The award-winning Halls Green-based jeweller describes her life-long love of designing jewellery, making a positive difference in the industry and style predictions for the year

The bespoke purple label collectionThe bespoke purple label collection

What inspired you to become a jeweller? 
I grew up surrounded by art and architectural drawings and with an in-built love of detail and beautiful things. My dad is a keen jeweller and I used to help him at his workbench – he helped me make my first ring at the age of four.

My mum’s friend had an art stall on Covent Garden Market and when I was 12 she took some of my earrings to sell. She pretended to be cross with me when she sold more of them than of her paintings. So I guess I always had an interest in business too.

I’ve always been passionate about real bespoke design and we are proud to have been well recognised for this. There is a lot of ‘Meccano’ going on in the jewellery industry and too much sole reliance on CAD in bespoke jewellery. My belief is jewellery should be personal to the wearer and shouldn’t have to cost the earth.

You have an ethical approach to jewellery – can you explain? My dad is a retired St Albans GP and I grew up in an environment where it was completely natural to put other people’s needs before my own. When I started buying jewellery materials, it seemed obvious to ask about the ethics of what I was buying. How were the people treated? Were they given a fair price? Were children working in the mines? I was very shocked to discover how little interest the industry was showing. However, a few of us started pushing hard to answer these questions and now we have Fairtrade gold, which is amazing. It was a privilege to be one of the first jewellers in the world to sell this.
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What are the jewellery trends in 2014? 
For engagement, wedding and eternity rings, we are noticing a strong lean towards rose gold and also continued interest in palladium. There is also a big trend this year for jewellery that tells a story – this is what we do with our bespoke jewellery, so it suits us perfectly.

In 2014, we are expecting intricate forms inspired by South America and the Far East. Last year, earrings were very large, and while we believe this will continue we expect a more subtle look to come through in studs and smaller drops.

My design team has been working on lots of new dress-jewellery designs and the collections will unfold throughout the year starting with our spring collection on purple-label.com. We have a fantastic new bridal collection and separate bridesmaid collection of jewellery coming out in a couple of months too.

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You have won lots of awards – what’s the key to your success? 
A brilliant team which is passionate, driven and shares common goals. We want to be the best at what we do and tell our customers’ love stories through beautiful jewellery. We are the current UK Boutique Jeweller of the Year and have also been voted most inspiring independent jeweller in Hertfordshire (and fourth in the UK).

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You have a free weekend in Herts – what would you do? 
A trip to the comedy club in Hitchin on a Friday night. On Saturday, maybe a swim in one of the county’s lovely swimming pools followed by a trip to John Lewis in Welwyn. On Saturday night, perhaps an evening with friends at the George in Baldock or the Palazzo in Royston. On Sunday, I’d probably go for a long walk with the kids on Royston Heath, which we love, and then perhaps pop up to my local – the Fox and Duck in Therfield – for lunch.

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