Kristina Charrington is my December Woman of Substance. Kristina is a well-respected British jeweller who has been designing, making and selling “contemporary jewellery with a traditional twist” for over 30 years. Her international clients include celebrities and royalty. She divides her time between her studios in Gloucestershire and London and works closely with British workshops, overseeing the attention to detail, fine craftsmanship and choice of beautiful stones for which her brand is renowned.
I caught up with Kristina in London recently and asked her a few questions:
What led you to become a jewellery designer and how has such a creative career influenced the rest of your life?
I saw a gap in the market for affordable, real jewellery; in the past it was either expensive costume jewellery or inherited antique jewellery that people wore. I wanted to design pieces one could buy oneself that cost no more than a new coat or handbag. Seasons and fashions change and so does one’s taste and lifestyle over time. I wanted people to be able to vary their jewellery accordingly. The active lifestyle of meeting people every day and making jewellery for them has given me great satisfaction. It’s hard to describe what sense of pride I have when I walk into a party seeing somebody wearing one of my pieces.
You have said that you see stones as communicating in a very personal and emotional way to the person who wears them. How has your study of gemology and your work with beautiful stones steered your own jewellery choices and do they affect your mood when you wear them?
Although I use diamonds in my designs, I adore the rainbow of colours that semi-precious stones bring. Many people don’t have the confidence to know what suits them and need my guidance. When I meet a client I know almost instantly which stones will suit them. For example, blondes look gorgeous in Blue Topaz, brunettes suit Peridot and redheads look fabulous in Amethyst. It’s nice not to wear the same thing every day; just like clothes, being able to change your jewellery can change your mood. Many of my earrings have detachable drops and all pendants can be moved from chains to pearl necklaces.
You sell mainly from your website and your office - what excites you about online as not just a sales channel but also a way to communicate with your customer?
My new online shop is the perfect tool to enable clients to design and choose exactly what they want via the stone changing option. Often clients ring me to discuss the gems while looking at an item of jewellery on the site and I explain what might work best for them. This gives them just as much attention as they would get if they were seeing me by appointment.
As a Scandinavian living in Gloucestershire, will you be hosting an English Christmas in the Cotswolds or returning to your Danish roots? Do please share with us your Christmas traditions.
Christmas is always in the UK with my family, but we certainly celebrate in Scandinavian style. The whole house is decorated and there is not only a tree in the hall but we are all wearing our gem-set Christmas Tree brooches. On the evening of the 24th we eat duck & red cabbage followed by special almond rice pudding (this dish contains many chopped nuts but only one whole almond - when the bowl is finished, whoever has the nut hidden in their cheek like a squirrel wins the prize) and a Kransekake marzipan cake of multiple layered rings forming a tall cone.
What is your personal style and how do you coordinate your clothes and your jewellery?
Sporty, practical and classic are the looks I tend to go for. I do not wear a lot of jewellery, but would never dream of going out without wearing a ring, a pair of earrings, a necklace and a bracelet. I like colourful clothes and therefore enjoy the variety of semi-precious stones which will always brighten up one’s face.
I know you have your eye on a few pieces in our Winser London Autumn/Winter collection – which appeal to you?
Living out of London I tend to spend a lot of time in the car. The Winser Short Trench looks as good when I leave the Cotswolds as it does when I hit the London pavements running.
This season I have fallen in love with ponchos. They are easy to wear and a more stylish shape than a regular sweater or cardigan.
Lastly, the Miracle Dress is comfortable to wear in the office and shows off my jewellery beautifully.