Renowned jewellery designers Theo Fennell and Stephen Webster painted an interesting and colourful picture of their careers in jewellery at the recent In Conversation event held by the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council, in partnership with the Goldsmiths’ Centre.
The sold-out panel discussion, now in its third year, was chaired by the Council’s chairman Jos Skeates and nearly 100 guests were in attendance to listen to both designers’ experiences of building a jewellery brand.
Fennell and Webster discussed the challenges of retail, developing internationally, and the impact and issues of branding in the fine jewellery trade. They also shared jokes and personal anecdotes with the audience.
Webster described the challenges and positives of becoming an international brand, while maintaining his own position as a creative designer.
He said: “Today, bespoke is the new branding. When a new piece of bespoke work comes through, everyone in the business is engaged – the designer, workshop, stone setter etc.”
From left, designers Theo Fennell and Stephen Webster with council chairman Jos Skeates
Meanwhile, Fennell discussed the first time he entered a jewellery workshop and the passion its workers had. Fennell, who has worked in the trade for 41 years, has several employees that have worked with him for more than 30 years.
He explained: “I had a staff member come to me at the age of 65, upset because he thought he’d have to retire. I said ‘no way’, and he’s still with me now at 73.”
Answering questions from both the council chairman, Jos Skeates, and the audience, the pair also shared their thoughts on jewellery retail, using your own name as your brand and designing affordable fine collections with a clear design DNA.
The evening’s conversation was streamed live in parts across the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council’s social channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.