International Jewellery London is thrilled to be supporting the Retail Jeweller UK Jewellery Awards New Designer of the Year category in 2016.
To celebrate, we’re finding out a little bit more about the shortlisted designer-makers and brands, including Eleni Zolia, jewellery designer and founder of Zolia Jewellery.
Here, Eleni explains why her sculptural jewellery naturally attracts a confident customer, and reveals the organisational questions she would ask an industry mentor…
Q: When did you establish your brand and what is your background in jewellery design?
EZ: Zolia Jewellery was founded in 2015 and it came a while after my postgraduate studies. I have an MA in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products from the Birmingham City University School of Jewellery. Previously, I had gained solid silversmithing and jewellery design foundations during my vocational training at the Mokume Institute in Athens, Greece. However, I should add that there are always aspects in jewellery design and making that I learned and learn by myself, and by being a professional in the sector as a way to develop myself and keep my work fresh.
Q: How would you describe your design style and is there a particular woman you design for?
EZ: My design style is sculptural and imposing. Zolia Jewellery flirts with the idea of jewellery being a form of sculpture and sculpture being a form of jewellery. Wearable pieces of art with an eccentric and quirky essence are transformed into unconventional pieces of jewellery. Fluid, futuristic curves in harmony with angles create the unique signature.
The woman that wears Zolia Jewellery is a confident, cultured and stylish woman who seeks individuality and wants to wear statement pieces of jewellery that underline her personality. She appreciates the unique style, the arts and the craftsmanship.
Q: Do you have any key collections or stand-out pieces that always seem to draw attention?
EZ: The big rings are always the pieces that stand out for the uniqueness of their design and for the fact that, even their size and unconventional shape, they are very comfortable and easy to wear as they fit the anatomy of the hand perfectly. The large pendants also intrigue people because of the concepts that are hidden behind them and their highly detailed craftsmanship.
Q: What is it like being a new designer in the UK jewellery industry?
EZ: The UK jewellery industry is huge, complicated and involves diverse styles and customers, but it is not chaotic. Everything and everyone, after a persistent effort, can fit. There are many things to learn and many paths to discover. So it is exciting and challenging in a good, self-developing way.
Q: If you could learn one thing from a mentor or peer in the industry what would it be?
EZ: How to keep up with everything! Honestly, since this is my first year in business, I have to multi-task. I design and make the jewellery, which is the main and most thrilling part, but at the same time I am responsible for almost everything else from the website and graphics to marketing and contacts. There are far too many things in my to-do-list. So I could use a tip or two about that and probably get some more hints on how to develop Zolia Jewellery as a business.
Q: Finally, do you have any experience exhibiting at IJL and what are your impressions of the show?
EZ: I was an exhibitor at IJL in September 2015 and it was my first appearance in the jewellery sector. I was noticed by wholesale customers, some of them high-profile ones, and that led to stockists and relations with the prospect of future stockists. On top of it the advertisement that came from magazines and blogs contributed significantly to the brand awareness of Zolia Jewellery.
In short, the IJL exhibition played the most vital role in the development and exposure of Zolia Jewellery that brought me to the point of being shortlisted for New Designer of the Year 2016. I am already planning for my stand in the Design Gallery next September!