It was when co-founder Cecily was director of a gallery specialising in jewellery by artists - think Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons - that she had her ‘eureka’ moment: ‘this kind of design wasn't - and should be - available at a more affordable price’, explains Ilana.
Kapoor and Koons aside, ‘the life of a jewellery designer is uniquely challenging, because you need capital to buy stock and retailers' terms can be so punitive’.
‘We use an atelier-style model, where we use fine jewellery techniques to make our pieces, and then manufacture in silver and vermeil - so you get the quality, but at an affordable price.’
The end result is prices that are in the tens and hundreds, not the thousands.
We chatted with co-founder Ilana to talk all things jewellery...
What is it about jewellery that you love?
How anyone can wear it; any age, gender, shape, size. It's such a core way to express oneself, and to tell one's story. As a history nerd, I love the history of jewellery. It used to be very much defined as a woman's dowry but now that's been completely repurposed and it's such a powerful statement that women now buy jewellery for themselves. Finally, I think the craft of jewellery design and production is really underrated (and not helped by lots of poor quality fast fashion products flooding the market) It's so hard to make a sculpture that you can wear and moves on your body: I have the utmost respect for jewellery designers.
What jewellery trends can we expect to see for 2020?
I think we're done with minimalism. I think we'll increasingly see people wanting to express themselves, statement will come back in, and bold shapes and patterns of the ‘70s and ‘80s will see a resurgence.
What would go into your jewellery ‘capsule wardrobe’?
There's nothing like a really well crafted gold hoop (probably erring on the chunky side), but I think Scott Wilson's Swoop Earrings are the most beautiful thing I've ever worn. I'm increasingly into rings. I find the Bond Street Monopoly ring is really good to play with when I'm anxious. And then I have a necklace made by a designer I spent ages trying to find the name of. It's the first proper piece of jewellery I bought for myself. It cost me £150 and I love it.
How do you find the designers you work with? Are they exclusive to Motley?
It was at the gallery that Cecily met so many incredibly talented jewellery designers, that were struggling to get to market. Our first designer, Sian Evans, was Head of Jewellery at Central St Martin's. She recommended us to other designers in her network and the rest just followed, as they keep recommending their friends! Core to the Motley model is that our designers are all fine jewellery designers, and often have their own brands. I'm obsessed with Alice Cicolini's enamel rings, but they start at £800, so this is an amazing opportunity to get the talent of these designers at a price I can afford - for the first time.
Your Anonymous collection sounds intriguing… can you give us any hints about past or future collaborations?
That would be telling...