This week, we count our lucky stars to get a behind-the-scenes look at a local independent jewellery label that triggers our magpie tendencies quite a fair bit – Elverd Designs! Radiant-hued multi-faceted gemstones dramatically set in unerringly simple silver and gold bands set off little heart palpitations in every woman with a thing for sparkle. (Okay, make that all of us)
Natalie loves gemstones and that intuitive understanding shines through in the precision, brilliance, clarity and colour of her gemstone designs. She just knows how to make her gems look their best.
Like many others, we’ve developed a keen interest in the Elverd design story. From the first sketches on the drawing table to her journey to the backlit streets of Bangkok where Natalie carefully selects her gemstones, we trace the paths that guide the design process before the raw stones take final form as the glimmering baubles we so love and admire.
WORKING ON THE GO
No day is the same, and I like that. Some days are spent in my home office/studio answering email enquiries and messages and mailing orders, while other days are chewed up on the road delivering orders and meeting with customers. I also spend time arranging events and trips to Bangkok to handpick stones and talk through my designs in lengthy detail with my jeweler. I love every aspect of it: the challenges, the wins, the artistic freedom of designing and planning for the future and the opportunities for growth.
WORKING FROM THE STUDIO
With one mind to be able to work around family commitments, my home studio has given me amazing flexibility to focus on my jewellery design while still being present and available for my family. This has also given me the perfect platform for my start up business in helping to manage costs. By avoiding large rental overheads in Singapore, my end product price point is lower than if I had jumped straight into a showroom space.
The materials I can’t live without include pencil and paper for designing, gemstones, gemology equipment, fresh flowers and of course my MacBook! This simplicity allows me to be mobile and my business can take me anywhere I need to be.
STARTING WITH A SKETCH
Texture, colour and gemstone size will usually be my initial design direction for a piece, and they are always based on jewellery pieces I imagine I would wear or want for myself. I don’t base my designing on market trends, although it is a consideration, not a driver. For example, my newest “Art Deco Ring” collection was based on the strong, bold, square and rectangle lines from architectural influences during the Art Deco period. I wanted a large and bold ring for myself, and this design direction fit perfectly. My previous study in Interior Design in Australia definitely influenced this piece. After considering the best stone cut and possible gemstone colours, my Art Deco Ring was born!
SELECTION OF STONES
This is one of my absolute favourite things to do! I love being surrounded by raw and cut gemstone material. Pure heaven. I select gemstones based on my designs and the colours I need to complete a collection. My gemstone suppliers are one of the largest and most reputable in Thailand and my stones are all sourced directly from where they are mined. Many come from Africa, India and Brazil, but of course I am always on the lookout for new gemstones to add to my collection. My dream is to be able to offer more gemstone options and my study in Gemology has definitely helped me through the gemstone selection process, especially understanding and navigating gemstone identification, treatments and product quality.
CUTTING & POLISHING OF STONES
Every single Elverd Designs gemstone is cut by hand to meet the precise measurement requirements for my jewellery. Because the gemstones I use in my jewellery are all cut to order and not purchased in bulk, the stones need to be cut perfectly in line with my height, length and width specifications for a flawless fit.
My jewellers in Bangkok are a small family-owned business fronted by a husband and wife team and through a working relationship centered on trust; we have both managed to grow alongside each other. Their high quality work and standards are important to both of us and it is because of this relationship we continue to grow together. When starting on a new collection, we meet in-person to discuss my sketches, design expectations and gemstone colours. They then produce a sample piece for me to view and work off from.
After receiving the final jewellery product. I will inspect the setting, gemstone, ring size, or earring quality and road test them before having more pieces made.
DIFFICULTIES IN BRINGING A DESIGN IDEA TO LIFE
There have been times when the production process gets drawn out. A perfect example for me this year has been my cufflink collection. My jewellers had never made cufflinks previously and we have been back and forth a few times tweaking the final product. This has taken longer than I anticipated and I’ve had to remind myself at times that the quality outcome will be worth the wait. That being said, the entire process comes with great personal satisfaction and watching a design concept come to life is a huge reward for patience. Another challenge has been not knowing or anticipating how popular a design might be and the difficulty in forecasting production expectations.
I think I’m a naturally creative person. I like beautiful aesthetics and appreciate good design. The creative process comes relatively easily to me and having always loved gemstones, studying gemology was a dream of mine. I began my study last year after being encouraged by a dear friend. My study continues, when time allows, balancing my business needs with family commitments. My strong business sensibilities have also turned out to be great weapons. Coming from a family with a business background and my experience running and project-managing businesses in the past has allowed me to find a balance between my practical and creative pursuits.
IN HER DOWNTIME
I love to travel and spend time with my husband and two girls. As an expat living away from my home country, friends become our extended family. I cherish and appreciate all of the wonderful friendships and experiences I have built so far.
WHERE TO FIND ELVERD DESIGNS
I have recently relaunched the Elverd Designs website with updated shopping features and a fresh new look! Now my jewellery can be yours with just a simple click of a button. Details of upcoming events and new collections are all up on the site as well. In other news, I am so excited that Elverd Designs will soon be stocked at Paperbag Princess, a lovely free-spirited boutique at Cluny Court.
Elverd Designs will be at Boutiques at the Pit Building from 6-7 November, where Natalie will be showcasing her new and limited collection of sparkly gemstone treasures, alongside an eye-popping array of fashion, home, kids and lifestyle wares from the best independent local stores and designers. Linger over the beautiful gemstone pieces at the Elverd Designs booth and get to know the designers behind your most-loved labels. Hope to see you there!