Interview with Lucy Streatfield-Smith: Jewellery Buyer for Fortnum & Mason

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Fortnum & Mason, one of the world’s finest stores, renowned for wonderful hampers and a legendary Food Hall has been championing the best of British for over 300 years and in March 2013 Fortnum’s extended its jewellery offering. The Jewellery Room has just celebrated its first birthday and Luxury Topping caught up with Lucy Streatfeild-Smith, jewellery buyer at Fortnum & Mason to find out more about the project.

What was the motivation to make the changes to The Jewellery Room?

The 22nd March 2013 saw the re-launch of Fortnum & Mason’s jewellery collection with a refurbishment of The Jewellery Room. Previously customers could shop a small jewellery collection but we decided that it was time to extend this to offer a mix of fashion-led and fine jewellery. We also worked with a fresh selection of designers including British jewellery brand Stephen Webster to offer designs that are exclusive to the store. We’ve had a very positive response since the re-launch and we recently hosted a week of special events for customers to celebrate The Jewellery Room’s first birthday including valuations by vintage costume jewellery expert, Susan Caplan and complimentary engraving by Astley Clarke.

Fortnum & Mason has been an iconic store for over three centuries. When opening The Jewellery Room how did you ensure that you maintained Fortnum & Mason’s excellence?

Our Jewellery Room maintains the luxurious feel that customers experience across all of our floors, in-store. The Jewellery Room looks like a beautiful jewellery box with soft drapes and mirrors reflecting the jewellery on display. In order to maintain the Fortnum’s feel, we focus on British up and coming talent as well as selecting the best of international established jewellers. Customers are able to have a one to one consultation with one of our jewellery experts to help them pick the perfect piece, while enjoying complimentary drinks from The Rocks Bar. All of this adds to a wonderous experience.

We considered various ways to present the jewellery before re-launching and eventually decided on a range of cabinets with different materials reflecting the value of the pieces. With a selection spanning many different styles and price brackets it was important that we were able to group our products so our customers can easily navigate their way around the room whilst keeping a theme throughout. In addition to this, artist Rory Dobner exclusively designed an emblem, which decorates the wallpaper around the room.

You have just celebrated The Jewellery Room’s first birthday. Do you feel that the changes made to The Jewellery Room have changed the customer demographic?

With the re-launch of The Jewellery Room, Fortnum’s offers something for everyone at various different price points. Expanding our range means that we now appeal to a wider customer base.

How often do you change the jewellery that you feature in the showroom? Do you choose themes that link the jewellery together?

New collections are showcased seasonally. We also review our mix of designers each season and scout new talent with the hope of introducing around four new designers each season. Just last season we began working with the British designer Phoebe Coleman who created some of her iconic pieces in 18ct gold, exclusively for Fortnum’s.

Would you say that your custom comes mostly from British or international citizens? Which nationalities would you say you are most popular with?

Our customer base is very varied. We probably have about 50% British buyers but we do have a great deal of American customers as well. For all customers we provide something very different including many new British jewellers such as Jessica de Lotz and Ornella Iannuzzi, and this makes The Jewellery Room particularly interesting.

You have a wonderful and varied collection of designers, with prices ranging from £60- £6000 for a pair of earrings, how do you curate the two ends of the spectrum in such close proximity to one another?

We group our jewellery together dependent on style as our customers are interested in the look and feel of jewellery. When we buy jewellery for the store we are interested in excellent craftsmanship and design and this is in turn what our customers expect.

Do you have any pieces of jewellery or projects ‘in the pipeline’ that you are particularly excited about coming up?

Yes, we have some really exciting and exclusive products for Christmas. We are even in the process of developing some own brand pieces of jewellery to launch in Autumn/Winter 2014.

What has been the most exciting part of The Jewellery Room?

Having the ability to work with our designers on products exclusive to Fortnum’s is fantastic. Helping customers choose personal gifts such as engagement rings, ensuring that the whole process is seamless and that they go away with a truly special gift, is very rewarding.

From a business perspective how successful has the jewellery room been?

The re-launch of the jewellery room has seen jewellery sales double, it has increased awareness of the breadth of Fortnum & Mason’s product offering. The personal service we provide at Fortnum’s and in our jewellery room is second to none. Customers can be confident that they are getting the best quality products while enjoying the best service.

Which three designers are you particularly excited by at the moment?

We have a number of exclusive ranges that our customers cannot find elsewhere. Lorina, a French designer has produced a range of jewellery through a process of tatting, many tiny knots intertwined with beads to give the effect of lace. It is beautifully handcrafted and extremely lightweight. We also have a collection by RueBelle which was new to Fortnum’s this season, all handmade in Hawaii using beautiful semi-precious stones. Phoebe Coleman designs and makes her jewellery collections in her London studio. She has exclusively produced ten of her iconic styles in 18-carat gold.