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The Jewellery Designer Who Knows What Women Want

By Hillary Kang

Vinader says she is deeply committed to both sustainability and social responsibility; her products are designed with a clean look that draws inspiration from various cultures and countries.
Vinader says she is deeply committed to both sustainability and social responsibility; her products are designed with a clean look that draws inspiration from various cultures and countries.

Since the brand's inception over a decade ago, Monica Vinader has carved out a special niche for herself in the demi-fine jewellery space; her gilded offerings provide a sweet-spot for women looking to start their own fine jewellery collections at a reasonable price point.

But don’t mistake affordability and versatility for low quality. The brand’s use of vermeil — a method of plating that results in a piece five times thicker than the average minimum for gold-plated jewellery — ensures that their pieces don’t just look good, but are able to withstand the heavy toll of everyday use without losing their literal shine. Its lifetime repair service promise also ensures that broken or worn-out pieces from the brand can always be sent back for repair, a policy enacted ostensibly to prevent from contributing to the fast fashion trend; the brand’s five-year warranty also guarantees that these repairs come at no extra cost during that time period.

Another key aspect of the Monica Vinader brand, and one that separates it from its peers is its commitment to social consciousness. The brand and Vinader herself are long-time supporters of Women for Women International, a non-profit that helps women from war-torn countries rebuild their lives.

The official Monica Vinader Instagram account frequently features a diverse range of women across all races; in March, the account posted a statement in support of the #StopAsianHate movement. “Hate and violence have no place in our community and we are committed to using our platform to support ending discrimination and racism in all its forms,” read the post.

As Vinader tells T Singapore, these were all elements that she wanted to incorporate into her namesake brand. In our interview, she explains how she bridged the gap between luxury and affordability, why sustainability remains a core tenet of her brand and why she will always design for women first.

HILLARY KANG: Despite being affordably priced, your products always have this sense of luxury surrounding them. How do you achieve this?

MONICA VINADER: This idea of balancing luxury with accessibility was central to the founding of the brand, and why we chose to use the vermeil technique instead of gold-plating. Vermeil pieces are always made with solid sterling silver, which is layered with a minimum of 2.5 microns of 18 karat gold (five times thicker than gold-plated jewellery). This allowed us to offer jewellery that is made out of precious metals at an affordable price. Beyond the materials used,
I think the sense of luxury comes from the incredible care we take in the designing and craftsmanship of each piece — we will never put something out that we don’t fully believe in.

HK: The Monica Vinader brand turns 12 this year. How much has it changed in the last decade?

MV: When we first started the brand, demi-fine jewellery was a category that didn’t really exist. We were offering accessible luxury through the use of 18 karat gold vermeil on solid sterling silver and providing an empowering self- purchasing experience. There are now many more players in the space, and as our customer base continues to grow and diversify we want to evolve alongside them while remaining true to our original vision. What has become incredibly important to us is designing sustainably and providing ethically sourced and made products that retain that high quality craftsmanship that our customers have come to expect.

HK: Why is sustainability so important to you?

MV: Sustainable living is personally important to me, and translating that to the business has been a passion project of mine for the last few years. As a brand, we’ve always used responsibly sourced diamonds and semi-precious gemstones and ensured we had an ethical supply chain — so the question became “What more could we do?”. We started looking into changing all of our designs over to recycled sterling silver in early 2019 after learning that using recycled silver cuts down CO2 emissions by two-thirds versus mined silver. We were able to achieve that change in 2020 and in the last month we officially moved to using 100 per cent recycled 18 karat gold vermeil. Sustainability is a journey and there’s always more to be done.

HK: What are you inspired by, and how do you find new ideas in lockdown?

MV: I find inspiration from a variety of places including vintage jewellery, museums, archeological finds, sculptures and contemporary architecture. I love to travel and have been influenced from both living and travelling abroad, exploring the landscapes, colours and architecture of different countries including Italy, Morocco, Mexico and India. My home is chock-full of treasures I have collected, so I stay inspired, even when not travelling, which we of course cannot do at the moment! My daughter is now 14 and absolutely loves jewellery. In lockdown, she’s really become my sounding board — the team and I have recently been asking her for her opinion more and more. It keeps me in touch with the younger generation and on top of new trends. She has had quite a bit of say in editing some of our pieces lately!

HK: Which piece of jewellery in your personal collection have you worn the most, or holds the most meaning for you?

MV: There’s the Marie pendant — one of my original designs — that is my lucky charm; the Siren Large pendant, which is engraved with my daughters signature; and the Alta Capture bracelet and necklace — they look good with everything!

HK: Very traditionally, jewellery is seen as something that a man gifts to a woman. How are you changing that perception with your brand?

MV: Individuality and empowerment are central to the ethos of the Monica Vinader brand. I want our customers to see themselves reflected in our brand, and know it’s the woman that makes the jewellery — not the other way around.

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