I am standing outside a dark wooden luxurious shop front window in the prestigious Burlington Arcade, staring into a 5-carat engagement ring with the total net value of £125,000. Of course I don’t know that this is initially is the cost, but the clarity and cut of the diamond is superb and designed by non other than A-list favourite jewellery designer Susannah Lovis.
Lovis welcomes me into the store where she is attending to not one, but two celebrity clients whom consist of socialite Henry Conway and ex-wag and Dancing On Ice star Elen Rives.
Elen and Henry (who are there separately) have obviously been in store for a while and are both borrowing jewels for different events. Lovis is attentive and polite and extremely knowledgeable to them in what they are looking for.
Apart from these two keen borrowers, Lovis actually has a long list of celebrity clientele, which ranges from Jessica Moor (Nick Knowles beau) to Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha Dixon, Livia Firth (Colin Firth’s wife) and Emma Bunton and Martine McCutcheon, whom Lovis has both either re-designed or made engagement rings for.
At present they are shooting new pieces for their current website, which is about to be re-launched so customers can actually purchase items live online through an e-commerce store. One of their famous customers model Sophie Anderton is more than happy to oblige with promotional pictures to front their new campaign as she regularly wears Lovis’ pieces, and is a huge fan.
Apart from being extremley busy running her own business and looking after her children, Lovis still has time to sit down with me and tell me how it all began.
After studying gemmology and jewellery design she went to work in the store she now owns. Lovis started out as an assistant, and when her boss announced he was selling up the business only a little while after she joined to concentrate on his family life she was faced with a dilemma. Newly married, it was actually Lovis’ husband who gave her the idea to buy the business and start it up on her own. With help from the bank and previous shareholders that’s exactly what she did in 1997. The store has been running for nearly 15 years now, and although tough in the beginning, Lovis had forged strong relationships with previous clients and through “word of mouth and an impeccable reputation and lots of repeat business” she has made it into the blossoming business it is today.
Lovis states that undoubtedly their busiest period of the year is Christmas. “Christmas is by far our best month with queues ending up down the street – and we sell a lot of unique engagement rings”, nevertheless, her clients are so friendly with the staff that they actually do not mind waiting at all if required to do so. Lovis also offers home valuations to clients and if they hold something exquisite that she may think would suit her store she then offers to purchase the piece and sell it on for them.
Her penchant it seems is for Victorian jewellery though, noting that the earrings she was adorning the day we met were actually re-constructed from a different pieces of jewellery and diamonds which interestingly were designed to sparkle more in candlelight during the period they were made in.
As an ambassador for vintage jewellery and London Jewellery Week Lovis has also instigated an event this year called Jewel Identity which allows members of the public to come into any jewellery store in Burlington Arcade – including hers – to receive a free valuation on jewellery they own. This was extremely successful and she hopes to continue this again next year.
In spite of this, apart from showing at Olympia and the Miami Antique Fair in the past Lovis will not be participating in the IGL trade show later this year as they solely concentrate on modern jewellery only.
Apart from selling antique jewellery and creating bespoke pieces for clients which includes buying in diamonds or re-constructing old pieces the customer may have, Lovis also hires out her in-store pieces for weddings, such as two amazing diamond tiaras worth a staggering £40,000 for just £350 per day.
Sourcing jewellery from France and mainly overseas in America – who are said to have a great selection of recycled antique pieces – Lovis’ dream is ‘to have a shop in New York one day’, but one of the biggest perks? designing her own pieces: “I designed my own eternity ring”; testament to Lovis that if you work hard enough you will succeed.
Susannah Lovis Jewellery in store ranges from £180-£125,000. For more information visit http://www.susannahlovis.com or 50 Burlington Arcade, London W1J 0QH. Tel: +44 (0)20 7493 2008.