By Chere Di Boscio
Many who could be considered ‘ethical jewellers’ tend to create hippy-ish, tribal pieces that look as though they could as easily be sold in street markets in Ibiza as in lower-end department stores.
This is certainly not the case for haute joallerie brand Emily H.
The company’s Creative Director ,Yana Zaikin, was born in St Petersburg, Russia, where she completed her degree in Fine Art from the University of St Petersburg, later receiving tenure at the Gemological Institute of America. It was her decision to design herself a ring, as well as bespoke pieces for family and friends, that propelled Yana into her career as a fine jewellery designer.
But aside from designing jewellery, Yana is also passionate in her mission to raise awareness within the diamond industry for ethical fine jewellery, striving for complete transparency in the sourcing of stones. To support the cause, Yana has founded the 8C Foundation*, which aims to ensure pure, certified Fair-trade diamonds and precious stones that will deliver real economic justice to all those involved in their extraction and production.
Yana’s passion for design and her instinctive understanding of the personal meaning and emotional significance of jewellery has led the designer to create some truly inspiring pieces, both for bespoke clients and in her three debut collections. In this interview, she talks about why ethics are important, and how jewellery is an art.
When was Emily H London established?
Emily H London was established in 2006 as a bespoke fine jewellery design service, creating one off pieces for an international clientele of jewellery connoisseurs. In 2013 Emily H London launched its three debut collections intended for the wider market.
Where is the brand based?
I was born and studied jewellery design in St. Petersburg, but Emily H London was founded here in the UK.
Why were you so keen to work in ethical jewellery?
It’s important to me to be a perfectionist in all I do, just using gorgeous stones and highly skilled artisans wasn’t enough, I was adamant that the stone’s used had to be ethically sourced and responsibly mined.
My passion for ethical jewellery led me to create the 8 C foundation, an initiate that encourages the use of ethical stones in the fine jewellery industry. The 8 C Foundation incorporates not only the industry recognised 4 C’s (Cut, Carat, Clarity and Colour) but also; ‘Comprehension’, we need to understand where the gems are mined, ‘Cooperation’; we can’t demonize African diamonds and must co-operate with small artisans who can’t afford more modern methods of mining, ‘Compassion’; we must only purchase reasonably sourced gems and involve small miners in the education process to establish cutting schools in Africa and finally ‘Coordination’; as an industry we must all embrace these principles in order to raise the quality of life of people involved in the mining and trade process. I follow these 8 principals and I encourage other designers to do the same.
How does Emily H London go about ensuring that all their stones are ethically and responsibly sourced?
Emily H London has formed strong relationships with mines all over the world. We use our knowledge to ensure that our brand only sources stones from mines and traders who comply to the principals of the 8 C Foundation.
Does this make the job harder, and does it mean that you can’t always use the jewels she would like?
Having a commitment to ethical stones makes the job of creating a piece of jewellery more lengthy, but such a process creates a piece of jewellery that is both stunning to look at and morally sound- this combination is essential to the Emily H Brand.
Does Emily H London just work with ethical stones or do they also use fair-trade gold?
Yes, we use recycled and fair trade gold in all our designs.
Do you see jewellery as a kind of art? If so, in which way?
At Emily H London we see each piece of a jewellery we create as a piece of wearable art. It reflects the personality of the owner and their sense of style and beauty. Emily H London began as a bespoke jewellery design service, so we understand the importance of having a piece that means something special to you-jewellery is art you can have with you all day. Jewellery becomes so much more than an object, it becomes a piece of family history; increasing in sentimental value, and getting passed from generation to generation.
Art has been an important part of my life as long as I can remember-as a designer it’s a part of who I am. Some of my inspiration comes from the Belle Epoque and the Royal jewellery created throughout history, which can be seen in our Eve of Milady collection- three stunning pieces using Muzo Emeralds, inspired by the Art Deco era.
Nature has also been an influence to artists throughout time, and our Emilia Collection takes a strong influence from Mother Nature: bejewelled leaves wrap around sumptuous amethyst stones.