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Jewellery Mavericks: An interview with Rachael Taylor

For our next segment in our Jewellery Mavericks series, we interview the prolific jewellery insider, Rachael Taylor. Rachael is the co-founder of the Jewellery Cut, the go-to online magazine for the industry reporting on new happenings; trends and events; sparking conversations on the best of contemporary jewellery and intriguing talent.

Apart from running the Jewellery Cut, Rachael has many other endeavours, she is an ambassador for the Women’s Jewellery Network, and writes for a variety of highly regarded platforms for the industry. Rachael’s opinion is respected globally, her expertise cultivated from a decade of writing about jewellery.

We spoke to Rachael to find out her thoughts on the growing demand for bespoke jewellery, the sentiment behind statement pieces, and trends within the industry.


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Who was your greatest influence in shaping your jewellery taste? Do you remember when and how your passion was kindled?

One of my earliest jewellery memories is of posting my mother’s engagement ring into the overflow drain in the family sink. Apparently, this was something I liked to do a lot–between floorboards, down the back of the sofa; as soon as her back was turned and the ring was off her finger, I’d stuff it anywhere I could secret a diamond.

Another obsession I had was a chunky charm bracelet owned by my grandmother, Elizabeth Taylor (not the Elizabeth Taylor, I have to point out, by my Elizabeth Taylor) who also taught me a valuable jewellery lesson early on – “you don’t need to wear your whole jewellery box at one time”.

It was said with a somewhat snide tone and a nod towards her cousin, who liked to wear stacks of gold rings on every finger and kept her forearms glittering with bracelets all the way up to her elbows. I never once saw my grandmother wear that charm bracelet, but its tiny charms, each with their own story and many with an element of movement, such as secret hinged opening, kept me amused for hours.

I was also a passionate jewellery collector myself as a kid, though my tastes were highly questionable back then, as you might expect. My passion lay in amassing what I can only describe as chav jewellery-box classics: leaping gold dolphins, men’s signet rings, hefty curb-link chains, St Christopher necklaces. It’s embarrassing recall, but, then again, looking at today’s jewellery trends, maybe I was just ahead of my time. Damn the subsequent Noughties trend for eBaying anything of value…

RAchael Taylor Taylor & Hart

If you could only wear one piece of jewellery for the rest of your life, what piece would you choose and why?

It would have to be a decent, mid-length pendant. Nothing can lift an outfit swifter. I have a lovely hammered yellow gold pendant by Deci London that I got a decade ago, but it still attracts compliments every day. It is a round disk that is decorated with rubies, my birthstone, laid out to match the constellation of my star sign, Leo. This is quite a popular theme in jewellery at the moment, but when I first discovered it, nobody was doing it and it instantly struck me as a way to have something very special and personal without being too obvious.

I have a real weakness for jewellery with secrets. A new acquisition I’ve just made is a pendant by a designer called Fraser Hamilton, who handcarves miniature sculptures in gold. The necklace I have is a tiny yellow gold hand holding onto a heart-shaped ruby, with the gem cast into the design rather than set so it looks as though it really is gripped by the fingers.

Hamilton, Fraser - 'Given Heart'
rachael taylor jewellery mavericks

Is there an item which you consider both a simple accessory and a piece of art, both everyday and statement?

I think engagement rings fall beautifully into this category. Because you wear them every day, they are easy to overlook, but you carry a lot of beautiful design with you without even thinking about it. So much passion has gone into its creation and its selection, and whether it was a surprise or you selected it yourself, at that moment you first saw it, you most likely felt as though it was the most beautiful piece of jewellery you had ever seen–a work of art!

I’ve also picked out some Taylor & Hart engagement rings that I really like, and feel fit with what I talk about with regards to engagement rings being everyday works of art.

Sirius Marquise Yellow Gold
white gold gossamer hexagonal diamond engagement ring taylor and hart
Knife edge halo Marquise Rose gold taylor and hart

Art is supposed to make us feel something, and a glance down at an engagement ring, no matter how simple the design or how often you see it, always stirs some emotion.

What are the biggest trends you’re currently seeing in the jewellery industry?

I think the main overarching trend is a sense of playfulness. Fine jewellery is no longer stuffy, no longer for special occasions only. This is permeating through in lots of different ways.


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We have many unisex collections now that defy traditional gender roles, because why should someone sitting at a jewellers’ bench or on a marketing board define who wears what?

Men can accessorise freely with what would be considered women’s jewellery, and vice versa. This playful freedom of expression is also why we are seeing a huge upswing in earrings being sold singly, as we no longer have to conform to pairs in our quest for the perfect ear stack. Piercing, too, plays into this, as we brave the needle–at all ages–to create contemporary looks with multiple studs and hoops. What midlife crisis is complete with all your cartilage intact, I ask you?

Colour is also a huge trend. Whether this is achieved through a rainbow of sapphires, slicks of bright enamel, ceramics or peacock-hued titanium in place of traditional gold, the explosion of colour in jewellery is yet another pointer towards our desire to be bold and have fun with adornment.


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Is custom designed jewellery a passing trend or is it here to stay? What are the advantages of custom pieces to off-the-shelf ones?

I think it’s absolutely here to stay. Jewellers have been telling me for years that the number of bespoke commissions are on the rise, and I don’t see any signs of a slowdown.

Once we realise that we can order something that is unique to us, for not much more than buying off the shelf, why would we want to go back to mass-produced jewels?

I think there is a lot of fear around buying jewellery, and a natural but false assumption that to commission anything bespoke will cost an absolute fortune. I think with jewellers now bringing benches out of dirty workshops and onto the shop floor, and brands opening up what was once a secretive world by posting behind-the-scenes shots on Instagram, it is emboldening shoppers.

As we start to understand more about how jewellery is made through this opening up of the industry, approaching a jeweller no longer feels like an elitist activity, and, once seen, even through the screen of your phone, the romance of a goldsmiths’ craftsmanship is hard to resist.

RAchael Taylor Taylor & Hart

Are there any rules to follow when designing the dream engagement ring or should it be led by imagination only?

Go with your gut would be my advice. Unless you are Victoria Beckham, you are going to be stuck with that engagement ring for the entirety of your marriage, so you still want to love it in 10, 20, 50 years’ time. But that doesn’t mean you should automatically go for the most boring option. Believe me, it feels safe, and your sensible head will tell you to go for the plainest of solitaires, but if your heart lusts after a little contemporary twist or something totally atypical but you love it, I say go for it.

It is most likely going to be one of the biggest jewellery purchases you will make in your life, and you don’t want to be left with any regrets that you didn’t go for something that really sings true to your personality. So while you should avoid fads, and your gut will let you know what they are if you really listen to it, a fashionable little twist or a quirky alternative style that really sums you up will serve you far better, and make you much happier in the long run, than a ring that you chose because it’s a sensible, safe choice.


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What are the most common misconceptions of the jewellery industry you believe first time buyers have?

I think that people underestimate the craftsmanship that goes into even the plainest of rings. It can take years of training at the bench to learn how to make and perfect even the simplest of solitaires, and many of the techniques used are centuries-old and have been diligently passed down from master to apprentice through the ages. Every quality jewel is a piece of history and art and a celebration of hand skills, and that is worth stretching your budget for, if you can.

First-time buyers are often scared by the price of fine jewellery, but unlike an iPhone or a dress–both items that can cost hundreds of pounds – it will last forever, and be something you can pass on.

In an interview with Vogue contributing editor Lynn Yaeger that we published on The Jewellery Cut, she said something about why she chooses to collect jewels over fashion that really stuck with me.

A dress is going to disintegrate, jewellery will not.

Lynn Yaeger


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When you think about customisation of a ring or jewellery piece, what gets you excited?

The possibilities. The endless possibilities. Customisation is a real trend in jewellery right now, and it’s easy to see why.

Making something unique to you is such a gift, and whether you do that with a simple engraved message or by swapping a diamond for an unusual coloured gemstone that speaks to you, being involved in that journey of change is hugely exciting.

It lets you play designer, and who wouldn’t want to do that? Plus, you get to bore all your friends for years on end with the ins and outs of why you chose what you did, and how it just works. Their eyes will glaze over, but you won’t care, because in your mind you’re pretty much Suzanne Belperron.


A huge thank you to Rachael Taylor for sharing her amazing insight into the jewellery industry for us! View our collection of engagement rings to see more of the artful designs Rachael picked out, and to see how you can create a bespoke engagement ring that resonates with your personality!

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