Is it possible to go from a career in law in New York to being a successful jewellery designer?
Well, yes. That’s exactly what happened to Elina Faurschou of Phine Jewellery. She’d decided she’d had enough after her old boss promised her a promotion that didn’t materialise. So she walked out, moved to London and trained to be a jewellery designer. She now runs a successful jewellery brand, which is stocked in Selfridges and worn by celebs!
That’s what I call sticking it to your boss. And it’s exactly what you’d expect from someone who’s an ambassador for the Women’s Jewellery Network, which is how I met Elina. The philosophy behind her brand is strong, playful, free-spirited and uncomplicated women – who are fiercely independent.
Here’s her story:
How would you describe your jewellery?
Swedish / Scandi minimal with a London edge, it’s edgy, bold, has a twist, yet is classical.
You’re originally from Sweden. How did you end up in the UK?
It’s actually a funny story. I was in a meeting with my old boss (I used to work as a lawyer in New York) and didn’t get the promotion that had been promised to me.
Then I realised this job didn’t even make me happy anyway, so I quit there and then…and applied to study jewellery design in London.
I came to London to study Jewellery design and then fell in love with the city, as well as with my partner.
You were a corporate lawyer before you got into jewellery design. That’s a HUGE change! What made you decide to change careers?
Yes I hadn’t even realised I actually wanted to do something creative. Until that moment in my old boss’s office, (where I didn’t get the promotion I thought I wanted), I was very happy. I had my law background. I grew up a lot studying law, and I’m happy I understand the law. But now I’m happy that I also get to fulfil my passion for jewellery.
Do you ever regret changing career?
No I absolutely love what I do, and can’t see myself ever going back.
Do you think your Swedish heritage comes through in your work?
Yes, 100%. I love clean lines, clean jewellery and this is very typically Swedish.
Your jewellery is so bold and empowering. Do you design your jewellery with someone particular in mind?
I always get inspired by strong women, who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, who are following their path. There are many women I get inspired by, but I don’t really have just one in mind when designing.
The Phine girl isn’t one perfectly polished persona, but a concoction of all fiercely independent girls we see and admire every day. They are strong, playful, free-spirited and uncomplicated – they are who they want to be. Instinctively they know jewellery is about discovering one’s own style. Finding pieces that they love to wear because they make you feel empowered and amazing, regardless of the current season’s fashions.
Is the current political climate (Brexit etc) having any impact on your business?
Yes unfortunately, gold and silver prices fluctuate and change so much since the UK voted to leave the EU…and the uncertainty is just making everyone cautious. It’s certainly not good for business.
What materials do you use?
Recycled sterling silver (with or without 18ct gold plating) and bespoke Fairtrade gold. Everything is sustainable and recycled – from our packaging to our jewellery.
Where do you create your jewellery?
We create the jewellery in my (Phine’s) studio in Hackney, London
What’s the favourite piece in your jewellery collection?
That would be my Forever Interlinked Choker. I just love to wear and style it with anything. It looks super rich and powerful on its own, but equally amazing layered up with tons of our other jewellery.
I always design new pieces so that they can be worn on their own, or layered up.
What’s the piece you’re most proud of creating?
That would be the Elephant Necklace. I love all the details and etching as well as what it stands for, we donate 10% to the Elephant Family of each sale in order to help to protect Asian Elephants and their territory.
What’s your favourite part of being a Jewellery Designer?
I love coming up with new ideas all the time and interacting with customers. I love to see how happy they are wearing Phine pieces and it’s just the best thing to make someone else happy and seeing customers feeling empowered wearing your own designs.
As well as an amazing jewellery designer, you’re also an ambassador for the Women’s Jewellery Network. Why did you want to get involved?
I think it’s really important that women learn to support each other, help each other and lift each other up rather than competing with each other. It’s already difficult enough being a woman in the jewellery trade, yet women are the biggest customers and consumers. So I think women/ women owned businesses should be heard a little bit more.
What’s your proudest moment of being a Jewellery Designer?
Good question, there are actually a lot of proud moments… I think one of the proudest was my first sale through Phine after having just set up the business. I love making customers happy and it’s always very exciting to see customers wear Phine jewellery.
Another proud moment has been launching with Selfridges and seeing my jewellery in Selfridges, one of the UK’s biggest and most fashionable department stores. That journey has been something else.
Do you work directly with customers?
Yes, I love working directly with customers. It’s either through the website, various pop-ups or for bespoke pieces. Working directly with customers is so empowering.
What’s your design process?
Usually my team or I have an idea, we discuss it and come up with various sketches around that one design idea, to build a collection….and start hitting the bench to see how we can make the first samples. We are all about craftsmanship and “slow” jewellery.
How important is jewellery design to you?
Jewellery design is very important to me and I always love to come up with ideas that have not been made yet.
What do you love about jewellery?
Jewellery totally changes an outfit…you can wear jeans and a shirt, put on some jewellery and immediately you take the outfit to another level..I think jewellery elevates any outfit.
How did you start creating jewellery?
My dad would teach me how to make little rings etc from left over gold in his dentistry when I was a little kid. From then on I used to beg him to do this every day, I was totally hooked. As I got older, I would take weekend and workshop classes in making jewellery every chance I got.
Why did you fall in love with jewellery design?
It’s so amazing to create an amazing jewellery piece out of a bulk of gold or silver. I just love the feeling of creating something unique and for someone then wearing this unique piece.
What are your aspirations for your business?
I want to see how far I can grow Phine…I would love it to become a household name and we could one day (rather sooner than later) open our first flagship store in London.
Where do you feel most inspired?
I always love being in our summer house in Sweden, it’s so quiet and peaceful. I also love travelling and seeing new things. My designs are a combination of daily things that I see like turning a bolt into an amazing jewellery piece, things that are going on in the world and geometric forms.
I have a full arsenal of sketchbooks and drawings from the past years that I love to look into again and again…and I just love taking sketchbooks with me anywhere, because I never know when the next idea will come.
Who else inspires you?
Good question, at the moment I’m very inspired by Greta Thunberg. I love strong women who thrive to achieve anything they set their mind to.
What inspires you?
I love geometric forms. I love making beautiful jewellery from “manly” objects such as screws and bolts. But I also get inspired from travelling.
How do you juggle all the different aspects of the job?
I think this is the beauty of the job that it comes with so many different aspects, it never gets boring.
What advice would you give to people looking to buy jewellery from independent makers, but who don’t know where to look or how to go about it?
First look into the material. We should all be a little bit more into sustainability. But other than that, I think it’s just important to buy something that can be worn to many occasions, styled up for night time and styled for day time, as you get so much more usage out of the piece that way.
A jeweller has to be multi-skilled! How do you find that?
I love that, I love every aspect of it and I’ve learned a lot since venturing out.
Jewellers often have to work flexible hours, how does that fit in with the rest of your life?
It fits perfectly into my life. Often Phine doesn’t feel like work because this is my passion. I love making customers feel happy and empowered…hence we launched the Feminist Collection that empowers little girls (The Girls Network) to follow their dreams and passions.