Until we opened our first boutique in 2015, I worked from my home studio in a leafy lane a short walk from the beach on Hayling Island, Hampshire, where I continue to be inspired by my surroundings.
I am fascinated by shape, texture and contrast - surrounded by the open sky with silhouetted crying gulls, and the ever changing sea. I believe that great jewellery design will reflect our personality, and I love designs that make a statement, expressing a sense of freedom and joy.
I have no regrets about choosing to study an HND in 3D design specialising in metals, all those years ago, rather than a more theoretical degree course. Following 2 years at Art College experimenting with all types of material such as glass and ceramics as well as metals, I was itching to learn the practical and technical side of designing, making and marketing jewellery. To gain commercial experience I worked in an exclusive County Jewellers in Northampton for a year and then cut my teeth in the world of Jewellery Manufacturing – travelling the UK for 3 years with my company car and what must have been one of the first ‘car phones’! During this time I became more and more disillusioned with the apparent lack of any innovative‘design’ in jewellery outside of London – everything seemed to be a reproduction and was the same wherever I went.
So when my husband and I produced identical twin girls we realised the travelling days were at an end – and it was the perfect opportunity to start my own business with the ability to work flexibly from home. That is when I first started advertising one off and individually designed wedding rings. From an ad in the local paper and one or two Wedding Fairs Charlotte Cornelius Jewellery was born and we have grown over the last 18 years as steadily as my twin daughters have grown up! Adding my own exclusive collections along the way, and developing the commissions to embrace all forms of jewellery for all occasions, increasingly including remodelling of inherited and significant jewellery. It would be hard to find a more satisfying and heart-warming job as I work so creatively and closely with individuals and couples as I aim to find an understanding of their needs and ideas and forge a trusting relationship which may last for years and even decades!
We had been looking for a way of growing our business and reaching out to a wider audience. So after much planning and research we decided to open a shop in Castle Road in Southsea. We got off to a flying start with a wonderful welcome from the Castle Road traders, and the residents of Portsmouth as well as increase in clients visiting from further afield. It is really important to us that we retained the warm and relaxed environment we are known for. We still buy all the materials and select our gems personally - I was so grateful to have achieved my dream of building our on-site workshop with our own Goldsmith - so we could continue to grow and improve our services for our clients. After 2 years we outgrew 66 Castle Road and so now we have bought our own property on Marmion Road ( East) which is much larger so we have been able custom build a new workshop , building our team both front of house and at the bench, so that we can cotinue to flourish as a business by creating the most wonderful fine jewellery and continuing our ethos of valuing every person who walks through our door. Although it was hard to leave our beloved Castle Road we are so excited about our newest Chapter! Values - We seek to run our business ethically and with integrity.
All work is made and hallmarked in England, and all gems bought from UK dealers who are part of the Kimberley Process using conflict-free diamonds only. Ethically mined gems and the introduction of eco and recycled silver and gold are also supported by Charlotte Cornelius Ltd. I personally believe it is important to give back to the local and wider community. As a qualified Gestalt counsellor I have volunteered with, and continue to support a fantastic charity called Off the Record which offers free counselling to young people aged 11-25 years.
Charlotte Cornelius Ltd also sponsors monthly a christian based 'micro-finance' charity called Five Talents which gives small loans, mainly to women, in developing countries so that they can set up their own businesses. They are then empowered to support their families, educate their children and the loan gets repaid and recycled to the next budding entrepreneur!