Inspiration Category Occasion Designer

 

Founded by former art gallery director Cecily Motley and consumer expert Ilana Lever, Motley is a pioneering new jewellery brand on a mission to democratise jewellery design.

 

The Motley model

We believe the best design comes from the best designers. The cost of great design is made up of two parts; the work that goes into the creativity and the cost that goes into production. We wanted to retain outstanding creativity and exceptional craftsmanship, but bring the cost of production down by working in a more affordable metal - silver. So we came up with a new model:  outsource design to the best fine jewellery designers for the creativity part, handle the production ourselves with an expert atelier for the quality part and finally, work in silver and gold vermeil (that’s gold plated on silver) and sell direct to consumer - cutting out the retailers and their margins - for the affordable part. 

 

Where it came from

Co-founders Cecily and Ilana studied history together at Oxford, where they met in a tutorial about witchcraft (where all good ideas start). And then they went their separate ways…

 

Cecily went into the art world, eventually becoming the director of Louisa Guinness Gallery, which specialises in artist-made jewellery. The gallery would collaborate with contemporary artists to make limited editions of jewellery, sold mostly to art collectors and mostly for thousands of pounds. It was there that Cecily realised the unique challenges facing jewellery designers. The capital pressures of running a jewellery business meant even award winning jewellery makers were hardly swimming in cash. Cowed by punitive retail payment terms and the cost of brand building, she saw that most tended to work on bespoke pieces in gold and precious stones to avoid the cost of stock. All this meant the best design, by the best designers, was too expensive for most people to afford. Which is when Cecily came up with what is now the Motley model - outsource design to designers, make their designers ourselves. 

 

At this time, Ilana, who had spent a career as a management consultant and then inhouse at various consumer and retail brands, started helping out on the project. She was appalled by how old fashioned so much jewellery market messaging was, how difficult it was to buy jewellery online and acutely aware of the need for a jewellery brand that spoke to the wearer. Within 6 months, they were fundraising together and working together full time. The rest, as they say, is history. 

 

The making

We remember days when people used to hand jewellery down between generations. And you didn’t have to be a millionaire to get something to hand down. So we’re bringing back proper techniques, the old fashioned way. We take a bit longer, work a bit harder and spend more time on the details.. It’s why we have a three year guarantee on our products. We pay our makers fairly, source sustainable and produce in small batch sizes to avoid waste. We reject fast fashion and make jewellery for keeps. For more about our materials, click here. 

 

The designers

Our designers are our lifeblood and with only a couple of exceptions, fine jewellery designers. Exhibited in museums, owned by the most erudite collectors, trained at establishments like Central St Martins and Saraband their pieces can start from upwards of four figures. While their businesses are not set up to create pieces in silver (it's the same amount of work as gold, and they do not have the time or capital to spend finding quality manufacturers who can do this more efficiently), they love the Bauhaus principle of making their design accessible. What our designers have in common are their brilliance. Their styles are as different as the designers themselves, from contemporary statement pieces, to elegant art deco, to quirky ancient-Egyptian inspired collections.