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Jewellery Mavericks: An interview with Beanie Major

INDTL Beanie Major Taylor & Hart

Jewellery stylist and founder of In Detail Beanie Major has spent the past decade diving into jewellery boxes and pouring through personal collections to help women celebrate the distinctive role that jewellery plays in our identity and self-expression.

Renowned for her discerning eye and intimate knowledge of the jewellery industry, Beanie has wisdom to spare when it comes to finding exactly what it is you’re looking for. We speak to her about trends and tastes, and how to let your true self shine through your jewellery.

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

Like a lot of the women that we interview, playing with my mother’s jewellery is one of my earliest memories. The women in my family on my mother’s side all love and wear jewellery – so I have definitely inherited my passion from them.

My taste in jewellery is a reflection of my taste in general. I like minimal, simple, timeless pieces. Good craftsmanship and design are always important.

You can wear only one piece of jewellery for the rest of your life, what piece do you choose and why?

Can it be one type of jewellery? Hoop earrings. I love that they’re the oldest form of adornment. I was talking about hoops with my Granny and we agreed that every woman should have a pair. But, in fact, I think every woman should have ten pairs – they’re a wardrobe classic.

Hoop-la-la. Which are your favourite pair?

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But, if it had to be an individual item – it would be my pinky rings by Lebanese designer Dina Kamal – her architecture training is reflected in the perfect proportions of the rings. And she did years of research into the history of the pinky ring and who wears them – rappers, the Pope, women in the thirties who wore cocktail rings on their pinky fingers.

The energy she puts into creating her jewellery grabs attention. The rings are my armour – they make me feel sexy.

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

This is a really tough question. I prefer to refer to jewellery as design. Yes, it can be appreciated for its beauty and its craftsmanship, but ultimately it’s got to be wearable.

When I was at school, I was an art scholar and started out painting and drawing. One of my teachers had studied silversmithing at Royal College of Art – under her I learnt to make jewellery – she taught me about the design process and ergonomics.

I remember feeling this enlightenment at being able to apply my drawing and creative skills to something that had a function.

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

I’m hearing more and more about sustainability from my private engagement ring clients – questions like ‘are the stones sustainable?’ or ‘where does this gold come from?’. The first step is the consumer asking for it, the second is to act on that – it’s a huge part of our manifesto this year.

It’s fantastic that influential people, like Livia Firth from Eco Age, The Business of Fashion and Chopard are leading the conversation. Brands need to see that it’s not necessarily about marketing yourselves as sustainable, or ticking every box – it’s about small changes that start to make an impact.

It’s baby steps and us coming together as an industry.

And, power of the brand – because of platforms like Instagram, brands have the ability to interact with their followers in a very direct way, developing relationships.

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

People are sometimes nervous of bespoke because they think it costs a lot more. But fine jewellers will work to your budget – the consumer is more aware of that now.

With engagement rings, in particular, women are more involved in the process – they want something that says ‘this is me’, ‘I’m unique’, ‘our love is unique’. Ultimately people want something individual, rare – bespoke is only going to continue to grow.

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

The most important thing is to ensure it reflects you and your personal style, because you’re going to wear it every day. There are a few other things it’s worth keeping in mind:

  1. Try things on – do your research, go to some antique jewellery shops. Understand what you feel comfortable wearing, what shapes look good on your finger.
  2. Think about what wedding band you’d like from the off. How will it work with your engagement ring? Is it important that it sits flush against your engagement ring?
  3. Consider your style, and lifestyle. If you’re a nurse, or a keen gardener, some styles might be less appropriate – it must be practical for your lifestyle.
  4. Find a brand or designer whose values and style resonate with you.
  5. And finally, enjoy the process! A lot of couples find it stressful but it should be the most exciting time. Take your time and remember you are in control.

Obviously it’s nerve-wracking, find someone who can guide you and make it an enjoyable process.

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

Often customers don’t appreciate the value in a piece, and write it off as too expensive, or question the price. You’d spend the equivalent on a designer bag or a pair of shoes that might only last you a few seasons – jewellery lasts a lifetime. It comes down to education – knowing where a stone is from, understanding the process, the work that is involved.

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

I’m yet to commission a piece of jewellery myself. But, I’ve spent the last seven years interviewing women about their jewellery boxes, listening to their stories. Each time I take on a private client, it’s a journey – taking everything I’ve learned and helping others create their own stories is what’s exciting.

You’re creating a new story. You’re creating something that’s going out into the world to take on a life of its own. Once it leaves the workshop, the story carries on…

Jewellery is an essential artform of story telling and personal connection. Beanie’s come a long way in the industry, but her commitment to this sentiment has stayed strong. It’s how we know her influence on the jewellery landscape will be longlasting, just as it’s been on the lives of the women she’s worked with each day for the last decade.

Visit our ethical engagement rings page to see what we’re doing at Taylor & Hart to open the discussion on ethical sourcing within the jewellery industry.

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