Today we’re talking to London-based jeweller Catherine Marche. Using recycled silver and locally-sourced gold, she designs and makes rings, earrings, necklaces, and more from her tiny workspace in the heart of London’s Hatton Garden.
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Tell us about yourself. What do you make? What do you consider your best or favorite work?
Bonjour! My name is Catherine Marche, I am a French jewellery designer and goldsmith based in London UK. I make ethical fine jewellery fuelled by my French heritage, music, dance, colours and my travels.
My pieces are made with recycled silver and gold sourced locally to help minimise our impact on the planet’s resources.
I enjoy making little tokens of love to mark life’s milestones like an engagement, a wedding, a birth, an anniversary for both men and women…
My space can be a tad messy, as I like to work on several projects at the same time, although I am able to clear it up when I need to design and draw.
Quite spontaneous, I like to mix and match styles to express people’s individuality.
Tell us about your workshop
My workshop is in the “antichambre” of a polisher, upstairs in a small room shared with a stone setter. It is located in the heart of the jewellery district in London UK, in Hatton Garden.
Although I have moved a few times, I have had a workshop in the same area for the past 10 years.
My space is roughly 4x3m (ed. 13x10ft). It consists of a well-needed bench with a pendant motor and a soldering corner, and many tools like a rolling mill, shears, a bench drill, etc.
How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?
I started with an evening jewellery at the bench class at Central St Martins over 12 years ago..
Hooked ever since, I then went on to do further studies at London Metropolitan: I got 2 City and Guild degrees from the City Lit, studied a few more specialist subjects at Holts Academy of Jewellery, and took private classes with masters and established goldsmiths.
There are so many aspects to jewellery that you can learn something new all the time. You will never get bored.
Any advice for beginners to your craft?
Here are a couple of tips to help you getting started:
First, practice, practice and… you guessed it, practice. In a nutshell, the more pieces you make, the easier it should become.
Do your maths! Ensure that you include every single expense you have which is related to your craft, and that your hourly rate is not only higher than the minimum wage but also covers your life’s expenses. Once your maths are done, check if your product is still competitive with similar ones on the market and if needed, increase value or see how you can make it faster and/or more cost effective.
For example, let’s say you spend 10 hours making a bracelet. If your hourly rate is 15 GBP, your wholesale cost price would be at least 10*15 + cost of materials + overheads + profit.
There will be clients who fall in love with your product and can afford it. They will be okay spending this amount for something very special with a unique design. This adds value.
If you are selling it for less than your basic costs, you will make a loss. That said, each designer has different costs and your hourly rate will be unique to you.
Sometimes you might end up making something which is very niche. You will then have to try to market it to the right customers. Be discerning with the places where you choose to market your creations. Visit them and get a feel to assess if they are right for you.
What inspires you?
My sources of inspiration do vary. I will say that life experiences inspire me. My creative juices can be prompted by music, a word, a colour, a mood…
I also love antique jewellery from bygone eras and ancient civilisations. Egyptian, Roman, and Etruscan designs have an influence on my work.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I quite enjoy doing bespoke jewellery pieces for weddings and big life occasions. I find the opportunity for my creations to mark and be a companion for someone absolutely enticing.
I remember a woman who was so happy to be out of a bad relationship that she commissioned a divorce ring. It was so nice to see how happy she was when she opened her little box, which symbolised new freedom and happiness for her.
Some clients also want to celebrate a new love, a new job, a promotion, a new baby… Each one is an adventure.
Where can people find your work?
- My jewellery website: CatherineMarche-Designs.com
- Instagram: @catherinemarche
- Pinterest: @catherinemarche
- Twitter: @catherinemarche
- Blog: kalicatdesigns.blogspot.com
- For international orders: kalicat.etsy.com
- JeDeCo London: Oxo Tower Wharf 1.10, First floor Riverside, Barge House Street, London SE1 9PH (http://Jedeco.co.uk)
- Bates Goldsmiths of Cheltenham: 17 First Floor, Regent Arcade, Cheltenham GL50 1JZ (https://www.batesgoldsmiths.co.uk/)
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