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Annoushka

Annoushka

The Artist behind a Treasury of Precious Gemstones

AnnoushkaMeet Annoushka Ducas MBE, one of U.K.’s leading fine jewelry designers that have captured the hearts and pockets of many Brits and Americans alike.  Awarded an MBE in 2012 for her services to British jewelry, Annoushka takes an active role in developing new and emerging talent.  Annoushka’s first business, Links of London, focused mainly on silver and became a global luxury brand.  After selling Links of London in 2006, she could not find jewelry that she wanted to wear herself every day.  She wanted to design in gold and precious colored stones, and launched Annoushka in 2009, to explore that passion.  Annoushka understands that women look for jewelry to be an expression of their personal identity and there should be no boundaries in wearing diamonds with jeans.  Annoushka is unique from other jewelry designs because it is very personal.  “I design what I like to wear. It must be comfortable, versatile, and unfussy yet also tell a story.  I love color and am not frightened to experiment with color in my own wardrobe. My jewelry reflects this,” she shares. 

Annoushka studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, France after schooling at St. Mary’s Ascot, England.  She did not have formal training in design but was rather lucky enough to have worked with some master craftsmen from whom she learned a great deal.  Sharing some personal background, her godfather, Mark Birley, was a major influence on Annoushka.  He was the entrepreneur who founded the Mayfair, London nightclub, Annabel’s, among other ventures and was the son of the royal portraitist Sir Oswald Birley.  She worked for him after studying at the Sorbonne.  He designed his clubs and his aesthetic was highly influential - elegant and understated, yet his attention to detail was legendary.  Annoushka has always had a creative side and long before she became a jewelry designer, she commissioned her own jewelry.  As a personal interest, she has always enjoyed interior design and looks at rooms and spaces as blank canvases for her to imagine how to decorate them.  She shares, “If I hadn't become a jewelry designer I would have designed interiors or furniture.”

AnnoushkaFor something classic and timeless, we like the Classic Baroque Pearl Earring Drops in 18kt yellow gold and white pearl.  These can be looped through a pair of Eclipse Hoop Earrings or your own diamond and gold hoops to instantly add a touch of classiness to your outfit.  Great to wear for dressing up your favorite pair of jeans.  Of course, Annoushka is always thrilled to see how often the Duchess of Cambridge wears these Annoushka Classic Baroque Pearl Earring Drops.  AnnoushkaThese simple yet lovely pearl earring drops are versatile enough for day or night and should be a staple in every lady’s closet.  Annoushka has a large celebrity following as Gwyneth Paltrow has been a loyal supporter and Kate Hudson often wears Annoushka pieces to red carpet events.  Rihanna wore her Annoushka diamond earrings while performing live on the X Factor singing “Diamonds.”  For Annoushka, the most rewarding part about her job is meeting clients and learning about how they wear her jewelry.  She loves discovering how other women combine their pieces together or style Annoushka pieces to complete their look for the day. 

AnnoushkaAnnoushka offers rings in every style to suit women of different tastes.  The ideal ring to wear daily is the Coronet Ring, subtle enough for everyday but interesting in design and concept.  This ring is made with 14kt yellow gold and set with gorgeous white sapphires.  The unique design is eye-catching yet it displays beautifully when worn on the finger.  Looks great worn alone or paired with other stack rings.  Annoushka never stops thinking of new designs, which means her collections naturally evolve all the time.  As she finds new stones, “One of a Kind” pieces are created.  She gets very excited about new pieces and loves to keep her collection fresh.  And while she is aware of fashion, she does not necessarily have to go with the fashion season because she builds on her designs based on what inspires her.  Annoushka marches to the beat of her own creative drum.

From her collections, Annoushka loves the femininity and delicacy of the materials in her Dream Catcher collection.  This is one of three lines in the A/24 collection.  Like an artist’s edition, every piece within an A/24 collection is produced as an edition of 24 and every jewel is also numbered and signed.  The Mythology collection features some of her favorite jewels, in particular the Bee.  Her mother use to read Russian fairytales to Annoushka as a child, which is the inspiration behind the Mythology collection.  Her latest collection, AnnoushkaDusty Diamonds, is another favorite because she loves color and the dusty diamonds allow exploration of color combinations that one otherwise might not have put together.  This collection has unimaginable combinations of colored diamonds and gemstones that make every piece a work of art.  Pieces are playful and tactile and rich in color and full of life as they indulge in delicious gemstones.  The Dusty Diamonds Labradorite Bangle has a 3 carat center labradorite with delicate imperfections surrounded with an 18kt gold frame of blue diamonds.  Beautifully pavé set and bursting with natural character, this bangle has a vintage yet modern feel with the blue diamonds outlining the gorgeous labradorite. 

AnnoushkaThen, there is also her One of a Kind pieces, a collection where Annoushka found the true meaning of “labor of love.”  Over the years, she has collected an array of extraordinary semi-precious stones.  “I was simply drawn to their extraordinary character and intense color. And these stones evolved to be the One of a Kind collection, which is dedicated to the bold and extraordinary color of gemstones,” Annoushka says.  No two pieces within this collection are alike and designing each piece has been a journey, some of which she spent years on.  From her “One of a Kind” collection, a breathtakingly exquisite piece is the Annoushka Pink Opal Earrings.  Featuring 142 hand set stones and pink opal set in 18kt white gold, along with labradorite and brown diamonds, these earrings are beyond elegant and sexy.  There is something alluring about wearing a piece of jewelry that nobody else in the world will own because the stones are unique and individual in their own ways. 

AnnoushkaAnnoushka offers an amazing collection of necklaces, from delicate and dainty pendants to statement pieces made with precious and semi-precious gemstones.  A great everyday pendant that is beautiful yet noticeable is the Manuela Kernel Seed Diamond Necklace.  This piece is handcrafted in 18kt yellow gold featuring a long kernel seed that is gently burnished to create an antiquated finish.  Lined with micro pavé diamonds, they add a touch of sparkle against the glistening yellow gold.  The pendant is suspended from a delicate mini belcher chain and is a limited edition series of 24, signed by Manuela and Annoushka.  In approaching a new collection, stones are mainly the inspiration to her designs, making it different each time as it depends on how and where she finds the stone.  She shares, “One setting or background could influence the whole story for the design.”  In terms of style, Annoushka finds her jewelry style very personal because nearly everything she wears will have the versatility to suit any event.  She tends to wear warm colored stones set in yellow gold. 

Annoushka works very closely with her Design Director, Liz Olver, as they have been working together for the past 10 years.  Annoushka adds, “there is no design team as such, it’s just the two of us.”  Liz is classically trained, has lectured, written books and has a more technical approach.  As for Annoushka, she is very visual with a more fluid and organic style inspired mainly by color and texture.  She can see a form or an idea in the most unexpected things which can inspire a collection.  While running a business is amazing, Annoushka finds the hardest part about her job is trying to employ the right people and trusting them to give the same attention to detail that she would.  She has learned to always employ the best – because there is little point in recruiting people who are not better than she is at what they do. 

Annoushka always gives back to help women with their own goals and dreams.  Having just returned from Ethiopia, they are supporting a microfinance initiative to enable women to set up their own businesses with their own resources.  “It’s very exciting to see the progress,” she says.  Getting to know Annoushka, her favorite jewelry designer is Buccellati for the intricacy.  While it is quite contemporary, it has a wonderful vintage feel and works well with her own jewelry.  In her spare time, Annoushka really enjoys sports, especially skiing and horseback riding.  With her husband and four children, they ski and ride together all the time.  She also loves art and interior design and is constantly re-inventing certain rooms in her house or commissioning new pieces (much to her husband’s horror)!  Annoushka always loves a project.

Annoushka was lucky enough to travel widely across Europe as a child with her Russian mother, and also lived in Asia for three years in her twenties.  Inevitably, her Russian heritage has inspired several collections particularly Cloud Nine and Mythology.  She has traveled all over the world ever since.  She shares, “Whenever I can I try to ensure that my travels include countries where I know I can search for precious stones.”  As for the future, Annoushka is very mindful of her legacy as a jewelry designer and would like her jewelry to be more widely known internationally.  In England, Annoushka is sold exclusively through their own stores and website and stand-alone department store concessions.  Beginning September 2014, Annoushka will be available exclusively at the New York flagship of Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills on Wilshire Boulevard.  

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