“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” as the song goes. Well, I’m not so sure about that but I do know that I can never walk past this gorgeous shop in Green Street without pausing to admire the jewellery in the window. And then, quite by chance, I met Harriet at a party over Christmas and she told me her story.
Harriet learned to make jewellery with her father, a doctor who was also a talented goldsmith. With his help, she designed and made her first ring aged four and was hooked from that moment on. In an early sign of her entrepreneurial streak, at the age of eight she and her sister were making earrings from gold wire which they sold initially to friends and later at an artist friend’s stall in Covent Garden. Harriet is dyslexic, although this wasn’t identified until adulthood. Drawn to art, maths and science, she took a degree in Industrial Design and went on to work in the film business, but she never stopped making jewellery in her spare time, working in a shed at the bottom of the garden. When her waiting list got to thirty three people, all of whom had found her by word of mouth, Harriet made the decision to switch career into bespoke jewellery.
Harriet had two aims when she set up her business 20 years ago and they remain her aims today. Firstly, she wants to make bespoke jewellery reachable, offering high quality at affordable prices. The team that you meet in her shops are all designers and delight in telling a customer’s individual story through each commission. There’s also a ready to wear collection which features one off rings and very small runs of pendants, necklaces, earrings and other dress jewellery.
Secondly, for ethical reasons, Harriet prefers to work with fairtrade gold and has been a trailblazer in this field. Having located a gold mine in Colombia which operates on fairtrade principles, she met another jewellery activist and then the Fairtrade Foundation who asked her to advise them on how their process could work for jewellers in the UK. This movement works against child labour, for safety in the mining process and supports women’s rights, education and environmental issues. In buying fairtrade gold, you are supporting artisanal miners who receive a fair price for gold and extra money for their communities, which they are empowered to spend as they wish.
In 2011, Harriet and the Association launched fairtrade gold, now used by around three hundred UK jewellers as well as internationally. The majority of the jewellery in her shops is made of fairtrade gold. She buys diamonds direct from Botswana and Namibia and thoroughly checks the provenance of these and coloured gemstones to ensure that she meets the highest ethical standards possible.
2018 is shaping up to be another busy year for Harriet. As well as her Hertfordshire HQ, a beautiful converted barn with glass walled workshop, showroom, coffee shop and garden, and the Cambridge shop/design studio, Harriet is launching another shop with a design studio in Primrose Hill, north west London later this month. It’s an area she knows well as she and her husband, Tim, used to live there and with the neighbourhood’s mix of independent specialist businesses, it feels like a natural fit. Then there’s the design and production of the new ready to wear collection, pieces from which you can see in the photos through this post.
And Harriet has written a book about starting a creative business. It’ll be published in September and is inspired by her voluntary mentoring of creative businesses, during which she notices common threads with successful entrepreneurs as they combine creativity and innovation to build a viable business. Harriet has received many business and jewellery industry awards in recognition of her innovation and success and I, for one, can’t wait to see what she does next.
6-7 Green Street, Cambridge CB2 3JU