Annoushka Ducas MBE: ‘Learn from everyone and don’t be afraid of asking questions’
How did you get involved in Jewellery design?
I have always been passionate about jewellery although my story is unconventional as I have never had any formal training in jewellery design. I started designing jewellery when my mother, who ran a business supplying fish, asked me to think of a present for the chefs she worked with. I designed some fish cufflinks which she gave to the chefs and the rest were bought by Harvey Nichols. From there I launched Links of London and in 2009 founded Annoushka. I felt there was a real gap in the market for fine jewellery that could be worn every day, and it was from this that Annoushka was born.
You have travelled a lot in your life, Paris, Hong Kong… have your travels had an impact on the way you design creatively?
My travels are one of my biggest inspirations for my jewellery designs. I am lucky enough to have travelled a lot and I am constantly inspired by the most obscure and unexpected things. Nature has always been a particular 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 Russian heritage also plays a large part in my inspiration: my mother was Russian and my grandfather had an extraordinary, eclectic art collection which I am lucky enough to have been left. I recently launched a new collection, Imperial, which is inspired by the forms and colours of the Russian headdress or ‘kokoshnik’.
What sort of women do you design for – who is the Annoushka woman?
I design jewellery for myself first and foremost and I am fanatical that it should work on a practical level, as well as an aesthetic one. I think my jewellery really speaks to a modern woman who is looking for something unique; who isn’t afraid to be different. I love colour and my jewellery often features vibrant stones that I have collected along my travels. Most importantly I want the women who wear my jewellery to feel they can wear it every day – whether that’s with jeans or a cocktail dress!
If you could only wear one piece of jewellery for the rest of your life what would you choose and why?
I don’t think I could ever only wear one piece of jewellery! My favourite pieces are constantly changing but I would probably have to say my engagement ring. It was the first piece of jewellery I ever designed and I never take it off. Quite by chance, the workshop that made it for me happens to be next to our latest boutique in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong. The design is quite Art Deco in style which was an unconscious decision at the time but has definitely influenced the way I design jewellery now.
You’ve had incredible success with celebrities across the world. Who were you most excited about seeing in your jewellery?
I feel incredibly lucky that so many remarkable women have worn my jewellery. It is always an honour and incredibly humbling to see inspiring women wearing pieces I have designed. I find it interesting that such a variety of wonderful women have worn my jewellery, from Queen Rania of Jordan and Dame Helen Mirren to Rihanna and Gigi Hadid. The Duchess of Cambridge is also a fan of the brand and always looks beautiful in her Annoushka Baroque Pearl Drops.
What are the biggest trends you’re currently seeing in the jewellery industry?
Having designed jewellery for over 25 years now, it is interesting to see how quickly trends come around again. Charms have always held a special place in my heart and in my jewellery designs because they are so wonderfully collectable. I love how each charm can evoke a different memory or a place or event, so I am really pleased to see they are coming back into fashion now. I recently collaborated with The Vampire’s Wife, where Susie Cave and I designed a collection of charms based in Susie’s favourite Nick Cave songs. It’s a beautiful and romantic collection and one that can be worn in so many different ways. Why not wear your charms on a necklace or hung from a hoop earring? I love how versatile they can be.
In 2012 you were awarded Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for your services to the British jewellery industry, how did it make you feel to be apart of such an elite group?
I felt incredibly humbled and honoured to be awarded my MBE. It was a moment I never dreamt would happen and one that I was lucky enough to share with my husband and children. It was an incredibly special feeling and a moment I will always treasure.
What advice would you give your younger self if starting out?
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…
How do you manage your work /life balance?
As a mother to four children, my life is very busy. I have always been an early riser and I find I am most productive in the mornings. I am very lucky because I can design from anywhere which doesn’t always mean sitting at my desk and sketching, giving me more time to be with my family. No day is ever the same which I love, and there is no doubt the joys of modern technology allow me so much freedom to try and balance everything.
What is next for Annoushka Ducas?
Next year I will be launching a bridal collection which I am very excited about. I want to create jewellery for the modern bride in the hope that it will become an heirloom: something with its own story and memories attached to it to be passed down from generation to generation. This is the first time that I will be designing a bridal collection and I am looking forward to exploring this exciting market.
Annoushka Ducas will be coming over for a very special IMAGE event on May 10 at the luxurious five star Merrion Hotel, for event info and tickets click HERE