10 QUESTIONS WITH ANNOUSHKA DUCAS, FOUNDER OF ANNOUSHKA
This month we had the pleasure of catching up with Annoushka Ducas - Jewellery Designer, Creative Director and Founder of one of our favourite luxury jewellery brands: Annoushka. We have been discussing inspiration, entrepreneurship and sentimentality, as well as the new Seeds Collection which has arrived just in time for the autumn season…
1.) What led you into the jewellery world?
I have always been passionate about jewellery although my story is unconventional as I have never had any formal training in jewellery design. I got into the business because my mother owned a fish business supplying all of the best restaurants in London. One day she asked me to help create some fish cufflinks as a gift to the chefs she was working with who at the time were mainly men. At the time I was living in Hong Kong and I found an amazing model sculptor and created a range of cast silver cufflinks. This is really how my love for designing and creating jewellery started.
2.) Annoushka jewellery is incredibly creative, illustrative and innovative with a story to tell. What are your favourite sources of inspiration for new collections?
Some designers are driven by mechanics, by achieving technical excellence and innovation; I’m driven by the way jewellery makes people feel. Some of our most powerful memories are triggered through the way things feel. I really try to create an engagement with people by road-testing how my pieces feel, what textures and materials are most pleasing, which stones work together. Focusing on these areas brings real depth and layers of detail to the aesthetic that our clients find inspiring.
My travels are also one of my biggest inspirations. I am lucky enough to have travelled from a very young age and I am constantly inspired by the most obscure and unexpected things. My Russian heritage plays a large part in my design identity: my mother was Russian and my grandfather had an extraordinary, eclectic art collection which I am lucky enough to have been left. Both my Touch Wood Imperial collections are inspired by my childhood memories in Russia. Nature is also a great influence in my work, probably because I was brought up in the country and live at the foot of the Downs and very close to the sea. My newest collection, Seeds, is inspired by my garden in Sussex and the seeds that I grow there.
3.) Would you say Annoushka jewellery is trend-driven or do you like to go in your own creative direction?
As a jewellery designer it’s incredibly important to have your own creative direction. At Annoushka, I try to channel a light heartedness into my designs to make you smile when you buy or receive them. I design my jewellery with a modern, confident and independent woman in mind, for women who aren’t afraid to experiment with their jewellery style. It’s obviously important to take trends into consideration, but it’s imperative to develop your own style and direction – that is what makes you stand out as a designer.
4.) When you first began, did you ever that imagine that Annoushka would become the global success that it is today?
When I first designed the fish cufflinks I never believed I would be where I am today. I am very proud that I have got to where I am now, and grateful for everybody who has helped me along the way. I have always been hard working, a quality that I inherited from my mother. A single parent, she juggled quite a few careers and companies as she sought to create as stable a childhood for me as possible. This work ethic is one of the key qualities that she fostered in me and which I hope I have inspired in my own family.
5.) We all have a woman in our life that we need to buy for but it can be incredibly difficult to buy jewellery for others, as it is such a personal thing. Are there any fail-proof Annoushka pieces you would recommend for gift giving?
My Initial Collection is the perfect place to start when looking for a gift. The collection includes an initial necklace pendant, bracelet chain, ring and single stud earrings – all crafted in 18ct gold and diamond and all very affordable. I’ve always loved personalised jewellery as I think it encourages experimentation – something that is central to my design approach. This collection is fun and playful, but also classic and a failsafe jewellery box addition.
6.) We’re creeping into British autumn season. Can you tell us a little about the Seeds Collection?
This autumn I am launching my newest collection, Seeds. The collection consists of five miniature seeds – olive, acorn, pea pod, sycamore and conker crafted as miniature symbolic charms full of meaning, colour, tone and texture that draw on my obsession with the talismanic qualities of jewellery. In uncertain times these playful talismans bring a sense of hope, luck and protection to the wearer, making them a special reminder of inner strength in our image-obsessed lives. Inspired by my own garden in Sussex, where I grow all of these seeds, this is a particularly personal collection for me.
7.) Do you own any special pieces of jewellery that you find yourself wearing the most?
My engagement ring was the first piece of jewellery I designed and I never take it off. It is clearly inspired by Art Deco, a period that continues to influence my designs, and pays tribute to the glamour of Victorian jewellery. I wanted it to have all the deliciousness of a sweet and to be comfortable and wearable. From my own collections, the Mythology Globe Pendant is something I wear a lot: it speaks of travel, it’s really tactile and playful, and in many ways those qualities define my approach.
8.) Do you have any advice for those looking to take the first step into following their dreams and starting their own business?
One of the most important lessons I have learnt from my years in the business is that nothing is possible without hard work. I would advise to learn from everybody and everything around you and not to be afraid of asking questions. I always tell my children that no idea or question is ever too silly. If you don’t ask…
9.) How do you like to spend your time in London when you’re not busy creating / working?
When I am in London, one of my great passions is theatre. My husband and I recently saw…I also have a love for flowers and often think I would be a florist if I wasn’t a jewellery designer. I enjoy visiting Chelsea Physic Gardens and Columbia Road Flower Market in the early hours of the morning.
10.) How would you describe Annoushka in just 3 words?
Magical, playful and meaningful.
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