At Dimexon, we are passionate about nurturing the next generation of innovative jewellers. As such, we were honoured to sponsor the Emerging Designer of the Year category at the UK Jewellery Awards 2022, which was won by Genevieve Schwartz. Here, the award-winning jewellery designer talks to us about her recent award wins, gaining industry recognition and the story behind her brand.
Congratulations on your recent success. How did it feel to be named Emerging Jewellery Designer of the Year at the UK Jewellery Awards?
“Well, really overwhelmed and overjoyed. I'd been fortunate enough to meet the other nominees at a networking event, and I was really blown away by all of their work. So I knew that the top competition was going to be really tough. Hearing my name called, I was so excited but also emotional. When you work on your own every day, and when you don't know if what you're doing is right or wrong, to get that reassurance from the industry that what I've been doing is good, and they're pleased with it, and they think it's going somewhere and that is a massive vote of confidence. I really want to thank Dimexon for sponsoring the award, the judges and Retail Jeweller. Even just being shortlisted really helps. To have got here and have this 18 months later is just completely beyond my wildest dreams.”
Aside from winning the award itself, what was your highlight of the UK Jewellery Awards?
“The event itself and the production was just amazing. The value of the event was brilliant; the practical things, the location and the food. But, more so it was the people I got to meet. At my table, I was really lucky to sit with the Pandora team, and they really took me under their wing. I think what was especially lucky for me after I won the award was people came up to congratulate me, so I got to meet a lot of people and chat about what they do through that. I'm starting to see a lot of the same people again, which is really nice. There are a couple of people that I'll see at every event, and we’ve made a bit of a joke about it, but it's really nice. It feels like the closest thing to colleagues that I have at the moment.”
And just one week later, you won Emerging Brand of the Year at the Professional Jeweller Awards. That must have been quite a big moment for you.
“To know that my brand was also noticed and recognised again, with the other names in the category, I was just really blown away. I still don't really believe it, if I'm honest. I can see the awards [trophies] from where I'm sitting now. It’s been very motivating and has got me really excited about the future.”
The shortlists for both awards were very impressive. There’s a lot of up-and-coming talent in the industry. Are there any designers or brands that you’re particularly excited about?
“I'm taking part in an exhibition at the Goldsmiths’ Centre called Shine, which is running until December 2022. They picked nine designers to showcase their newest collections until the end of December. Through the project, I’ve met so many designers, including EDXÚ, who was shortlisted for the [UK Jewellery Awards and Professional Jeweller] Awards with me. I love what he's doing. I got to meet all of the [Shine] designers at a preview event, and I got to see all their work in real life and how passionate they are about what they do. What each of us is doing is so so different, but we're all at a similar stage of our journeys. EDXÚ, Ruby Taglight, Poppy Norton, Cameron & Breen, Caitlin Murphy, MuseLi-Q, Caius Bearder and Deborah Beck are all taking part in Shine, and are designers that I'm really excited by.”
Where did your love of jewellery come from?
“I grew up in a very creative household; my mother is a painter, and I've always had artistic pursuits. When I was at university, I was obsessed with making beaded earrings for my friends and selling them here and there. When I finished my degree in Art History, I had no idea what I wanted to do. But, I knew that I'd always loved jewellery. With something like painting, you just go for it. And to me, that's overwhelming. Jewellery speaks to my demeanour. With jewellery, once you learn the techniques, there are frameworks to explore and expand on, but the fundamentals are always the same.
How did your hobby turn into a profession?
I had a one-day internship at Ingle & Rhode which specialises in ethically mined jewellery. They said, ‘if you want to get into this field, the best way to start is by learning how it's made because it will prepare you for designing’. Then I went to Holts Academy, now the British Academy of Jewellery. I was there for three years, and I did everything from manufacturing to CAD design, anything I could get my hands on. That was where it started and I haven't looked back. “
A lot of your designs and collections are quite gender neutral. How do you incorporate androgyny in your work?
“Lots of my friends were proposing to their male partners and couldn’t find an engagement ring, which gave me the lightbulb moment to create my collection of men's engagement rings. But, in general, the jewellery I see men wearing now - on the tube in particular, that's where I do most of my market research - is similar to what women are wearing. Boundaries are being blurred in a good way. People should just be able to wear what they’re appealed to, and there shouldn't be any limitations there. My work lends itself to being neither nor. I intend to continue that and make my brand to become more gender neutral as time goes on. On a more practical level, men’s jewellery is less saturated than women’s, and if you can appeal to both, you can reach a greater audience.”
Do you use melee diamonds in your work? How do you think they can complement a design?
“Adding melee diamonds to a design is never a bad thing. I often use them in my engagement rings, and they work really nicely. More recently, my three art-deco-inspired women's engagement rings, especially the Levels of Light Ring, use smaller melee diamonds, and that has been really popular. I think people really like this kind of aesthetic.”
How do you incorporate ethics and sustainability into your collections? And why is it important for the wider industry to adopt these practices?
“Like everyone, I really try my best when I can. It's great to see the steps the industry is taking as a whole to try and improve practices, working conditions and where we source our materials from. It's great to see that things are changing in that direction. I think it's great that Dimexon has been doing that for so long. When it comes to my brand, I'm still figuring out the best and most genuine way of doing that. I offer my customers Fairtrade, gold or silver, and have a great ethical gemstone supplier. I was a part of the Fair Luxury Pledge last year, which encourages more ethical practices in jewellery that are manageable for your business. If we all take a pledge every year to improve our practices, slowly but surely, it will become a better industry. I just want to make sure that I can back what I'm doing.”