Heralding glimmering gemstones and the finest precious metals comes our newest obsession in the jewellery world – Monarc Jewellery. The bespoke jewellery label has us aflutter for many reasons, every piece carries with it a story, memory, or heritage of ultra-talented founder and designer, Ella Drake.
Remix caught up with the London-based girl boss to find out how her jewellery journey began, how she keeps her work life balanced, and her secret vice.
Describe how you landed such an esteemed role in the jewellery industry? What was your journey like to get to where you are today?
I lived in Italy for a modelling contract I had with Gucci across the late noughties. During my time in Florence I fell in love with its stores awash with handmade and antique jewellery, it sparked a desire in me to learn more about the craft. I booked myself into the Gemological Institute of America, based in the Uffizi building of Florence’s Historical Centre. Following my time at GIA, I spent five years working for an international jewellery production company, co-designing and managing their European brand portfolios. In 2016 I felt it was the right moment to take a leap and start my own jewellery line, and so Monarc Concierge was born.
Monarc Jewellery specialises in platinum, diamond, gold, silver and gemstone set product – but if you had to choose, what would be your favourite materials to work with?
The metal I love most at the moment is 9ct gold. Its golden hue has the slightest touch of cool, moss green that 18ct yellow gold doesn’t have. I love how this greeny-gold is offset perfectly by a summer tan. Gold has a higher density and is a lot stronger than silver, so really delicate styles can be achieved well through the use of any gold alloys.
What’s the first step in conceptualising a new collection?
The most difficult part of being a designer and owning a business is striking that balance of creativity and management. When I conceptualise a new collection it’s a case of running wild with the right side of my brain, but allowing the analytical left side of my brain to butt in with logistical reasoning.
I’m inspired by heritage and travel, the first step of conceptualising a body of work is accessing all the bits I’ve jotted down and wracking my brain for the unrecorded thoughts too. Then it’s a task of setting inspiration and memories into some sort of order, and exploring relevant materials to make them come alive.
Designing a ready-to-wear collection versus a bespoke piece would follow a completely different process. A ready-to-wear collection is more focused around coherency, price, and availability of appropriate materials for ongoing supply.
There’s a lot more room for creative licence with a bespoke project because it’s a project driven by only one customer, rather than a worldwide consumer market. Throughout the entire process, I am reminded by a belief that well-designed items become treasured and have value that continues over time, I appreciate these qualities and I strive to achieve them with all of the Monarc collections.
Who is the Monarc Jewellery girl?
The Monarc woman knows her own style; she leads her look. She appreciates quality craftsmanship and considered materials.
I think every woman has a bit of dichotomy to their being; the desire to be strong and intelligent, but also to feel love and to show a sense of softness. I try to design jewellery with this in mind and often juxtapose elements within a piece.
What has been a career highlight so far?
I took six months off in 2012 and spent my time being carefree in Portugal. I strongly feel that taking time off throughout our working lives enables us to clarify what it is we want to move forward with.
Another highlight would be all the relationships I have built with my clientele to date. I am in the business of creating jewellery that will last a lifetime, so I aim to build relationships rather than to make quick money and depart. It is a highlight each day I meet a new customer and start to create something that is of so much sentimental value to them.
If you weren’t a jewellery designer, what would you be doing and why?
I would want to be a naturopath or an architect if I wasn’t in jewellery. Maybe architecture would feel familiar to me because some technical design processes cross over with those of jewellery making.
Name a guilty pleasure of yours…
Drinking negronis- a guilty pleasure I have resolved to lessen this year. So far so good, but it does seem like I’ve substituted negroni for orange wine…
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