DIAMONDS REALLY ARE A GIRLS BEST FRIEND FOR VICKI TULLY, OWNER OF VJG JEWELLERY
Innovative Worthing-based jewellery designer and owner of VJG, Vicki Tully has been creating jewellery for over thirty years; from delicate pieces that scream femininity to bold bespoke stand-alone statement pieces, there is something for everyone at VJG Jewellery.
Vicki was kind enough to do a Q & A with The Sussex Splendour to talk about her journey through the industry, trends in jewellery and what is next for VJG.
1) Tell me a bit more about your background?
I have always had an artistic streak, however my fascination with metalwork started with my father who worked in the metal plating industry and also inspiration from family friends who worked in the jewellery business. When I left school, I commuted to London to study at The Clerkenwell College on a Jewellery & Art Metal Course and The Sir John Cass School of Art, specialising in Jewellery Design and Diamond Mounting. Once I had qualified, I went to work in The Lanes, Brighton and for four years I learnt antique jewellery restoration, therefore adding another dimension to my skills base. After a while I needed a new challenge, so I decided to up and leave and travel the world backpacking, which was a truly amazing experience! On my return I realised that I wanted to start up my own jewellery business. I knew that it would be a challenge, so I investigated all avenues for support and start-up guidance including the Princes Youth Business Trust and the West Sussex Area Enterprise Scheme and managed to get funding and support for my start-up business... and that is how VJG Jewellery started back in 1993!
2) Are you seeing any new trends in the preferred style or design of rings in 2018?
Rose Gold is very trendy now, it has really made a comeback! And we've also found yellow gold is on the increase in popularity again too. The trends all depend on either a top jewellery designer or a fashion house launching a new collection that then drip feeds down into main-stream high-street fashion. We've been really busy with hearts, stars and also graduating, tiered look necklaces have become popular. At VJG we can make completely bespoke rings, or we can rework old pieces to create new everyday rings. Jewellery these days is evocative, it is not just something to look at, it has become a very personal thing.
3) Where do you source your diamonds from? Do they meet ethical standards?
Yes of course, we source our diamonds from suppliers within the UK and have long-standing relationships with several companies who specialise in different diamonds, so we will select accordingly depending on what the customer's requirements are for say cut or colour etc. All diamonds are controlled through every step of the many processes from the initial mining all the way through to cutting and grading and are all regulated by The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).
4) Are there any exciting future plans for VJG?
This year we are celebrating 25 years in business and are planning on having a soiree in December, which is quite exciting! We are exceptionally proud of what the business has achieved, and I think that is reflected by the two Retailer Awards that we have previously won! I also want to optimise being in the new premises as although we have a loyal customer base the footfall in Worthing could be better for us to reach out to new clients! We plan to overcome that with optimising on social media, where we have had positive results. There's massive pressure on competing against the threat of online selling i.e. ''Bricks versus Clicks'' but we keep strong to our ethics of offering a professional in-house service that we have become so renown for.
5) Do you have any advice for people wanting to start in the jewellery business?
Run for the hills!! On a serious note, the best advice I can give is to investigate grants and funding, as there may be some available. Periodically councils and governing bodies will give them out to new business start-ups. Next, I would suggest that you investigate product research and see if you can justify a shop or online store. Having a shop gives you a better base as you can meet people in person which allows you to evaluate the client’s needs. We have had so many clients come in, where they have bought diamond rings online, they haven’t been able to see it before the sale, however they are a great price, the pieces are mass produced so the settings are not of great quality and the stones come out.
6) Are you working on any special projects at the moment?
We are working on two exciting projects, a 60th birthday present and a wedding anniversary present, one of which is a beautiful brooch.
7) Where do you seek inspiration?
I love natural forms. I designed my Forget-me-not Collection in homage to my late father unfortunately had Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Society uses a forget-me-not flower as it’s emblem so I decided to take the emblem and enhance it with a more organic look. Now when a piece from the Collection gets sold, a percentage of the sale gets donated to Guild Care, as they really helped and supported my family with caring for my father, so it gives me great satisfaction to give something back to this invaluable local charity. I also love Art Deco designs; this era produced some iconic geometric designed pieces!
8) Are there any brands that you particularly admire?
When I first started I worked in Hatton Garden and the West End in London I would always look in the windows at Cartier and Faberge who have the most amazing technical designs that were truly awe inspiring, and made with such expertise. One of my college tutors was an absolute stickler for accuracy, so I always appreciated master craftmanship when looking at such fine jewellery pieces!
9) Describe the woman who wears your jewellery?
That is impossible, our ranges are so versatile, we have clients from the age of 15 to 90 years old! Although, she would be loyal, stylish and diverse. We have some family's of four generations; grandmother, mother, daughter and then her son who are all customer's of ours that we've helped out with all their jewellery requirements with over the last 25 years!!
10) Describe your average day?
No two days are ever the same, that is why I love my job! As soon as I get to the shop the window displays need dressing by one of the team. We then check for online sales, process any orders for precious metal or gemstones dependent on what commissions we have on. We never know what customers are visiting us for so we will be discussing anything from a basic necklace repair through to a commission for a diamond eternity band.
For enquiries or commissions please contact
4 The Broadway