How did the brand come about?
K: I had always made jewellery as a hobby since university. I used to collect antique beads but there comes a point when there are only so many ways you can drape a bead necklace on yourself! Then somebody gave me some pave diamonds so I started making bracelets with them. I did lots of School Fairs and gave them to friends as gifts.
C: I was one of your best customers! I loved those beautiful bracelets with diamonds that you could wear all the time but still felt like something you treasure. I was frustrated spending money on jewellery that felt disposable. I’d buy it, wear it for the summer and it would either tarnish or fall apart.
K: Then a mutual friend, Kate, said ‘You two should really do something together’. We were friends but we didn’t know each other very well. I’d finished being a lawyer and I really wanted to do something. Claire had that itch to do something too.
C: I had worked at Warner Brothers Records for 10 years as Head of TV Promotions. It was really fun but after having had children, I went back for a year and then thought, ‘This isn’t for me anymore.’ So we went for a coffee and starting talking about our love of jewellery. We did months of research and plotting.
C: Then we decided ‘Let’s Do This!’ It was a leap of faith setting up our company, looking back. We were fearless.
K: I’m so glad that we did it together though. It’s so hard to do it on your own.
Was there a moment when you thought ‘Yes, this is really happening?’
C: We were lucky in that right from the start so many people supported us and liked the jewellery but I guess being the best selling jewellery brand at the Goop shop on Westbourne Grove shop was a great moment for us.
K: When Gwyneth lived in London, her kids went to the same school as my kids and our sons became friends. So through that, I got to know her and we are still good friends now.
C: Kirstie is very laid back and not at all pushy. Maybe that is why you are friends. The funny thing is that you didn’t ask Gwyneth to put Kirstie Le Marque in Goop, she asked you! One evening at dinner together, she said ‘Oh I love the jewellery you’re wearing. Is that one of your pieces? We’ve got to have that in the Goop store!’
K: Yes, there was no hustle!
C: To give Gwyneth her due, she has a great eye. It was the chunky star pendant you were wearing which is still our best seller today as worn by Dua Lipa and Jodie Comer. It’s become our signature piece with it’s mixed metals and was a real catalyst in getting our business going.
K: She has a great eye but she also puts in the work. She is up at 6, 6.30am and is at the dining table by 7am working away. She is a force and a half, I so admire her.
What about sustainability and ethical values – are they core to your brand?
C: Absolutely. We offer a range to our customers – so with the chunky gold star, you can either buy the 9 carat gold necklace at £995 or the gold plated version for £385 which given most people’s budgets is the more popular option. And as we’ve been going 5 years and people like to wear our jewellery every day, we realised that sometimes the jewellery needs to be replated. So we now offer a service where customers can send their jewellery and we will replate it for them and send it back to them in our sustainable boxes.
K: The idea came when I took the car in for an MOT! I said to Claire, ‘Why don’t we do the same for jewellery?’ So we make a nominal charge of £30 for the replating. We want our customers to keep on using and loving our jewellery.
C: And in terms of transparency of our supply chain, we have two workshops in India that we work with. We have visited them multiple times, checked that all their factory and working ethics are up to standard and we have a really strong relationship with them.
Tell us more about the Holly Willoughby collaboration?
C: Holly has been a friend of mine for years – I know her from when I used to take the bands to their tv interviews. It was actually her idea that we do a collaboration. We had breakfast and she came prepared with all these concepts and mood boards.
K: She loves a mood board, does Holly!
C: She was just setting up her own brand Wylde Moon and she wanted to do something celestial inspired which fitted in really well with our brand. It was actually a lovely design process together, super quick and hands on as she knew exactly what she wanted to do.
Which are your favourites pieces from the brand?
C: The strawberry pendant, the star and the studs. Oh also the moonstone drops with Holly and the bar hops for that 70s vibe when I’m going out.
K: The Huggie hoops and the Lion.
And which jewellery from your own personal collections do you love?
C: My mum’s old charm bracelet. I’m slowly taking it apart and piecing it all together so that we can split it between myself, my daughter and my sister. Also a coin of hers that was made from half of her wedding ring melted down, a locket and one of her belt buckles. My mum was a real magpie when it came to jewellery and I’ve definitely inherited it from her!
K: My lion pendant. It’s vintage and it’s been everywhere with me. In fact one of the reasons that we did the lion for the collection was because I was so worried about losing this one. I also love a bamboo gold bracelet that I bought when I graduated from university. I thought ‘Well done me!’ and I love it, it’s timeless. I wear all my jewellery with the Kirstie Le Marque jewellery too. That’s part of the charm, that you can layer them.
C: And we’ve just opened a studio where customers can come (by appointment only) and try on the jewellery. Then if they want the necklace a bit shorter or longer because it fits with their other jewellery, we can change it.
Where do you live and please can you recommend your favourite places to eat, drink and shop?
K: We both live in Highgate and we love it.
C: I hardly ever leave!
C: Without doubt, The Red Lion and Sun Pub is the best place to eat and drink.
K: It’s the best pub in the world!
C: For shopping, I go online mostly but Kirstie is the world’s best shopper!
K: Yes, I love vintage, interiors and antiques. I love a bit of Etsy.
C: We also love Laura Jackson’s Glassette. She has great taste and her husband is our photographer. And Love Your Home, for beds and sofas and chairs. My sister is their Head of Marketing. We’ve just done our new studio up and have lots of their stuff which looks great. I also really like With Nothing Underneath and Navy Grey. Memo Press for hand written notes. We started doing hand written notes for Valentine’s Day and have kept on doing them. They are so popular.
Which are your favourite Instagram Accounts?
K: I love @Retrouvius and @Vinterior, @Mrs_TrufflePig lives in a beautiful home (right). She picks up a lot of things in car boot sales. @McCullyandCrane in Rye – Marcus and Gareth sell amazing things and have an incredible eye. @ScenebyChloe is also good – we got the marble coffee table in our office from her and she came and delivered it herself. @SulisFineArt has lots of really affordable fine art.
Your jewellery has been worn by Dua Lipa, Brooke Shields and Michelle Dockery amongst many other celebrities. Is there anybody else you would like to see wearing it?
C and K: The Duchess of Cambridge!
K: Olivia Coleman would be great.
C: And Sienna Miller.
What are your onwards plans for the company?
K: We would really like to start scaling up and going global. Entering the US market for example. We’ve also got new collections coming this autumn based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a limited edition collection, plus more collaborations planned.
C: We’ve started the year so well with being stocked in our dream retailer, Liberty’s (it will be available there from May) and with our new studio. When we first got together to start the brand, we always said to ourselves, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to be stocked at Liberty’s and now we are!’
And we’re thrilled to say we have a prize draw to win a Kirstie Le Marque diamond and turquoise enamel egg necklace. To enter, click here.