5 minutes with: Astley Clarke founder and chairman, Bec Astley Clarke

5 minutes with: Astley Clarke founder and chairman, Bec Astley Clarke

We look forward to welcoming British fine jewellery brand Astley Clarke to International Jewellery London this year.

Here, the brand’s founder and chairman, Bec Astley Clarke, discusses best-selling collections, consumer trends and why she’s decided to exhibit at IJL in 2016…

Q: What are your brand’s current best-sellers and what do you think makes them so successful? 

BAC: Our Biography bracelets have been a best-selling collection from day one and continue to do amazingly well – they have become iconic to the Astley Clarke brand and we are globally recognised for our fringes of brightly coloured gemstone bracelets.

Each bracelet has a different symbolic meaning attributed to the gemstone or charm which proves super popular with our customers in an era when personalisation is king. In addition, we have a delicate pair of rose gold diamond hoop earrings that we just can’t keep in stock; nicknamed the Sienna hoop in the office (after their biggest advocate Sienna Miller), we are developing them in every colour metal and diamond imaginable to keep up with demand.

Mini Halo Hoop Earrings
Mini Halo Hoop Earrings

Q: Have you noticed any changes in customer tastes in recent months? 

BAC: There are a few trends that we have seen emerging – the most prevalent of which is the rise in popularity of mismatched and single stud earrings. From what was a non-existent category for us three months ago, single studs and hoop earrings now account for almost 50% of all of our online earring sales and it is continuing to grow. Our customers just love to stack them up the ear in multiple piercings and in answer to the trend we are constantly developing pieces such as our Varro Honeycomb and Biography Stud collections.

Metal wise – rose gold shows no signs of slowing down and our sales in 14ct rose gold have now overtaken those of yellow gold. Our customers just love our subtle shade of rose as it isn’t overly pink and looks flattering against any skin tone.

Mismatched Fusion Interstellar Stud Earrings in 14kt gold and diamonds
Mismatched Fusion Interstellar Stud Earrings in 14kt gold and diamonds

Q: Astley Clarke has recently partnered with delivery service LOUM – can you tell us more about this and why you decided to be one of the first to test this out?

BAC: Astley Clarke is a pioneer in fine jewellery digital retailing; we are constantly looking for new ways to push the boundaries of innovation and partnerships such as LOUM are key to that development.

Q: What are your business aims for 2016 and are there any new collections that you’re excited to be launching this summer/AW16?

BAC: We have some exciting launches in the pipeline for A/W16 including a world first in diamond personalisation. That’s all I can say for now though, anymore and I would have to kill you…

Q: What inspired you to exhibit at IJL this year and what do you hope to achieve?

BAC: As our UK and International wholesale channel continues to grow, we felt it was important to showcase our collections to a wide audience of potential new partners and to strengthen our existing relationships with some of the most prestigious jewellery retailers both across the UK and internationally – IJL offers a great platform in which to do so.

Q: In terms of international expansion, what lessons have you learnt when it comes to growing the Astley Clarke name abroad? 

BAC: Since the launch of wholesale a few years ago we have grown the channel rapidly, with the biggest expansion in the United States. One thing I have learned is that when it comes to what product works – every market is different, and even every state in the US is different – where a chunkier gold locket might work in Texas, the more refined pieces do better in New York. Trying to figure out the right store assortment for each location can be the hardest part.

Q: Finally, what would your advice me to emerging and start-up brands who are trying to make a name for themselves in this busy market? Should they be focusing on one thing in particular?

BAC: It is all about the product. Get that right and the rest will come.

BEC ASTLEY CLARKE FOUNDER 3

See Astley Clarke at IJL 2016 from 4th-6th September at Olympia Grand on Stand S140.

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