Nazanean Shirani
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Bridal jewellery designer-maker Sarah Phillips explains how she’s been busy building her business

Sarah Phillips creates beautiful bespoke bridal jewellery from engagement to wedding rings using Computer Aided Design (CAD). She joined the year-long Setting Out business incubation programme at the Goldsmiths’ Centre in 2016 and has been busy building her creative business with help from our tutors. In this blog post, she gives her top tips on choosing an engagement ring and what it takes to launch your own creative business.

Great to have you here today, Sarah. Tell us a little about yourself, including what you do and how you got here.

Hi, I'm a jeweller who has studied and worked in the jewellery industry for quite a few years now. I've spent time making jewellery at the bench, designing jewellery in CAD and in retail sales. I have a lot of friends and family who come to me for advice about buying jewellery, so last year I decided that is was time to work for myself. Luckily I discovered the Setting Out programme and here we are!

How would you describe your design style? What makes it unique?

I take inspiration from texture, pattern and hidden detail to create my pieces. I give some of the more traditional styles of jewellery a contemporary and personal feel.

What or who initially drew you to jewellery design, and more specifically, bridal jewellery?

I was always making some kind of jewellery when I was a teenager. I'd often sell my jewellery to my friends parents and teachers at school. I decided very early on that I liked the idea of creating precious fine jewellery as it’s timeless and can become a family heirloom that continues to brighten someone's day for many years to come! I particularly enjoy making occasions throughout people’s lives extra special.

What are important factors when choosing an engagement ring?

In regards to the diamond I feel that a high colour and cut grade are really important as these two elements can make the diamond look bright, white and extremely sparkly. Customers then have flexibility with the carat weight and the clarity depending on how much they’d like to spend. The ring design needs to be aesthetically pleasing to display the diamond, yet it needs to be securely held in place and be structurally strong to stand the test of time.

Which two designers do you most admire and why?

H Stern – a Brazilian designer. I travelled through Brazil when I was younger, and visited his boutique in Rio, and I’ve admired his innovative designs ever since. Asprey – amazing traditional handmade jewellery that always impresses me.

You’ve been honing your business skills this year with us on the Setting Out programme. How has the course helped you to kickstart your business?

I’ve got a wealth of experience in different areas of the jewellery industry from design, manufacturing and sales. The Setting Out course has really helped me to leverage these skills and grow my experience of building a business that I’m passionate about.

You’re about to launch your website. What key tips would you give others looking to set up an ecommerce website?

Know your customer, because the customer experience is the most important thing. Every page and button has to have them in mind, to give them the right information and make it easy for them to do business with you.

Who would you most like to see wearing your jewellery one day?

Happy customers that are willing to recommend my company and to pass on their jewellery as family heirlooms in many years to come – that’s what inspires me!

What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking of applying for Setting Out?

Go for it! The professional assistance and encouragement is fantastic and you won't regret it! You can dream big, and aspire to the kind of work/life balance that you’ve always wanted. The Setting Out programme will provide you with the right tools to achieve it.

Click here for more information on the Setting Out programme.