We chat to jeweller Alex Monroe about his iconic bumble bee necklace and how he still finds inspiration after 30 years in business.
Your iconic Bumble Bee necklace turns 10 next year, are you surprised at its longevity or did you know you were creating something special at the time?
Everything we make is made to be current and obviously works with fashion (although we never knowingly follow trends). The jewellery is never made to be disposable, so we hope that all our pieces will become heirloom and still worn for decades to come. Our recondition service in London helps see to this as we’re able to give some life back into any pieces that have been loved for many years - bees included!
You’ve been at the head of your brand now for 30 years, is nature still as big an inspiration or have you started to draw ideas from elsewhere?
Well when you think about it everything comes from nature. My parents were architects so I’m always inspired by modern buildings, but when you dig deeper you’ll find that the building design, whether it be aesthetic or materials in themselves, have their inspirations and roots from nature. Nature is such a big word, it really does encompass everything!
What is it about nature that fascinated you so much?
Well I grew up in Suffolk so there was nothing but nature! I think as we all become more urbanised it is more important to have a link back to the natural world.
How important is it to you that all your jewellery is handmade in the UK?
I trained as a jewellery designer and maker so that’s what I do - it would just seem wrong to have someone else somewhere else doing what we do. If we had our jewellery made overseas it would turn us into more of a corporation when what we really are is people making things for other people to enjoy. It’s like if you had good friends over for dinner, you wouldn’t by in a take away, you would cook for them, it’s that lovely human to human exchange that makes us, us.
You’re also very conscious that every piece is as green as possible, is this a consistent goal?
The important thing for me is to have an idea, which is then made in the form of jewellery and when you are sharing that with other people it just seems wrong to create harm in the process. I’m a strong eco warrior but I also see no reason why you can’t run a successful business while being mindful of people and your environment.
Are there any collaborations you’d like to work on that you haven’t achieved yet?
We would love to collaborate with a fantastic tool maker to make a set of jeweller tools that we could sell to our customers. Quite a few of them are keen jewellers themselves!
Do you have a favourite piece / collection?
It’s like asking if you have a favourite child! I really do love all the pieces I make. Of course I get incredibly excited when I’m working on a new project but I love everything we make equally.
Shop Alex Monroe exclusively at Weir & Sons