LONDON — Disrupter, fixation, alternative. The pandemic has been all that and extra for jewellery followers and designers alike.
Just ask Sabine Roemer.
The German-born designer has two manufacturers: the excessive jewellery line that carries her name (one-off items priced from 10,000 kilos, or about $14,095) and Atelier Romy, which sells stylish items like stackable chain necklaces and ear occasion studs on-line for £50 to £500.
And now that England is easing restrictions, she stated, each traces are rising as direct-to-consumer companies — and are linked extra intently to her personal identification as a craftswoman.
“Workmanship is absolutely apparent in everything Sabine does,” stated Marisa Drew, a senior funding banker in London who has jewellery from each of Ms. Roemer’s manufacturers. “There’s always a personality in her pieces and she really approaches her designs with a story in mind.”
Ms. Drew stated she likes Ms. Roemer’s transformable designs and robust consideration to element, options that additionally resonate with Sarah Giovanna, a managing director at a non-public fairness agency in London.
“She sits down with you and really creates something that fits you. For me, it’s all about flexibility,” stated Ms. Giovanna, who additionally wears each traces. “I work in a high-intensity environment, dealing with big businesses, and I want pieces that I can dress up and down. Both brands deliver that.”
Last year’s lockdown, nevertheless, was “a make-and-break moment,” Ms. Roemer stated, particularly for Atelier Romy, which was solely three years outdated when the pandemic hit.
“I was forced to look at every single aspect of the business, and not just entrust it to others,” the 41-year-old designer stated, admitting she had centered on creation and purchasers. Suddenly she couldn’t simply assist purchasers dream up excessive jewellery items like a pair of diamond and pearl earrings topped with 17-carat citrines or work on a philanthropic collaboration like the jeweled rendition of a postage stamp she created for the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust in 2017 to have fun the queen’s 65 years on the British throne.
In March 2020, Ms. Roemer canceled her delivery agent. She hadn’t been solely proud of its service and determined achievement needs to be dealt with in-house. “I packed, I shipped and tied the ribbon around every box,” she stated. “I needed to learn everything — my accountant joked that it was like McDonald’s, where you have to start in the kitchen and work your way up.” (A handwritten card now accompanies each order.)
Ms. Roemer and her workforce additionally centered on Atelier Romy’s social media presence, creating stronger digital content material and visuals that highlighted Ms. Roemer as the maker behind the jewels. She wouldn’t share gross sales figures, however Ms. Roemer stated customers should have preferred the modifications, as gross sales elevated fivefold.
It’s the type of on-line advertising that’s right here to remain, stated Juliet Hutton-Squire, head of world technique at Adorn, a jewellery market intelligence agency.
When shoppers couldn’t spend on journey, she stated, they started spending extra on luxurious gadgets and funding items. Fashion manufacturers have been nicely positioned to seize these gross sales, due to their early investments in digital, and “brands with an online presence or shoppable content on social media were even further ahead of the curve as mobile phones became the way we shop,” Ms. Hutton-Squire defined. “That is just going to continue. We are not going back from this.”
In some ways, Ms. Roemer’s early career — which started as a 15-year-old goldsmith apprentice in Germany — led to her roles as a businesswoman and jeweler immediately.
Crafting jewellery, she stated, is just not all about “tools, craft and creation,” as she had as soon as imagined. “You soon realized you also have to be good at physics and math, chemicals and chemistry. Thankfully, those were my favorite subjects at school.”
Atelier Romy has exercised her mathematical brain much more. “I love data,” she stated. “I find it fascinating sitting at home in lockdown and just looking at data and who’s coming into the virtual shop.”
After graduating from Pforzheim Goldsmith and Watchmaking School in Germany, Ms. Roemer joined Stephen Webster, a London designer she stated she notably admired as “a craftsperson and not just a designer.”
More work for different Bond Street homes adopted, plus orders from non-public purchasers — turning the early 2000s into one thing of a golden period for Ms. Roemer’s excessive jewellery career. Her philanthropic work additionally was acknowledged, particularly a number of customized items she made in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, like a gold, diamond and emerald bangle inscribed with the South African president’s jail quantity; Morgan Freeman wore the piece to the 2010 Oscars as a greatest actor nominee for “Invictus.”
Ms. Roemer stated the expertise confirmed her how jewellery may very well be a type of storytelling. “The easy thing to do was put a bling diamond piece that gets attention, but I wanted to put Mandela’s story on the red carpet,” she stated. “In the end, jewelry is emotional — you wear it every day on your skin. I don’t wear my grandmother’s handbag every day but I do wear her ring. It’s close to me, and really carries that emotional value.”
That identical year, her first excessive jewellery assortment debuted at Harrods.
Atelier Romy — a reputation impressed by the beginning of Ms. Roemer’s first daughter, Romy — was created as an inexpensive ready-to-wear line to be offered solely on-line. “I wanted to portray something a bit different,” she recalled. “Something with strong bold designs but still modern and zeitlos” — German for ageless — “depending on how you’d layer and make it your own.”
Soul and goal
Valery Demure, the London-based model marketing consultant who represents a number of unbiased jewelers (however not Ms. Roemer), stated: “Sabine interests me because she doesn’t come from a jewelry family. Everything she’s learned has been through hard work by herself, and the fact that she has all these skills. She is a woman with a real soul and purpose.”
That sense is more and more related in a post-pandemic world. Ms. Hutton-Squire stated the pandemic’s “enforced pause button” highlighted the significance of sustainability and the atmosphere, spurring jewelers to behave on-line in additional genuine methods. Whether that was creating, for instance, a playlist for meditation or sharing residence recipes, “it wasn’t all about sell, sell, sell,” she stated. “That really kind of separated the authentic bands from the less authentic ones.”
That additionally explains the rising demand for craft — one thing Ms. Roemer stated she had skilled prepandemic with a few of her excessive jewellery line’s feminine purchasers. “They have a very different mind-set: asking who made it and what it is. It’s less about the stone, how big it is and the carat size,” Ms. Roemer stated. “They just want to express themselves and their personalities through jewelry.”
She has been bringing the sentiment on-line. Atelier Romy now has weekly drops of “how to style” movies and photographs of Ms. Roemer at the workbench, reducing, soldering and shaping metallic, all the time amongst her hottest posts. “Few people really know how jewelry is still made,” she stated. “It was nice to take people into the workshop and show them the process.”
In March, Ms. Roemer launched Cornerstones, her first excessive jewellery assortment in additional than 10 years. The additional time in lockdown has been a inventive boon, she stated (“I always found the best pieces happen in the workshop when you don’t have a plan”) and the assortment of 9 pairs of earrings have been muses on journey, with multifunctional items like sea-inspired blue topaz, aquamarine and diamond transformable earrings that Ms. Drew bought.
Ms. Roemer stated she hopes to renew meeting purchasers from each manufacturers, which, due to the pandemic, really feel extra complementary than ever. “It’s like having two babies — you can’t pick a favorite one, they’re equally important,” she stated. “But also very different.”