Sydney-based designer Tania Gnecchi makes incredibly feminine and elegant jewellery. Simple, honest and very gentle, her pieces are real works of art. How difficult is it to design jewellery? How do you find your niche in the business? Do you still dream of becoming a jewellery designer but don’t know how to start? We hope that our interview with Tania will inspire you to launch a new startup.
Tell us about yourself, including what you do
By profession I’m a jewellery designer, however I like to think of myself as an all-round creative. I’m a lover of beautiful things and a maker. I currently run my own jewellery label – RUUSK – and I also work as a freelance graphic designer.
When did you first discover that you wanted to be the owner of your own jewellery brand?
Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, so I’ve always been used to the idea of working for myself. I love the freedom and control it brings, and, although it can be very challenging at times, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.
What sparked your passion for jewellery?
Even as a child I was fascinated by jewellery. I used to collect shells on the beach to make necklaces with my mother, and I loved playing with the bangles that my Grandmother used to wear. Jewellery has always been a symbol of the people I love, and this is where my passion lies. Jewellery is one of the few items that we wear that can truly become an extension of ourselves. It’s very personal and intimate, and I love creating these pieces.
Tell us about your design style. What makes your collections unique in the industry?
I think my design style is very simple and honest. I like to create pieces that people can wear every day, so my designs need to reflect that. What makes RUUSK unique is that I also want to involve you in the jewellery design process, by creating basic shapes that you can customise. Currently there are over 8000 unique combinations that you could create.
What kind of person wears your jewelry?
RUUSK wearers are people who are looking for something special. They are looking for something that they can wear everyday and that will become a part of them. They are lovers of design and of beautiful pieces made by hand. They treasure the pieces they own and value traditional and honest craftsmanship.
What’s your jewellery philosophy? How do you like to wear your favorite pieces?
I guess my design philosophy is to create pieces with meaning. Ethical production is also very important to me, so I only use local Gold and conflict-free diamonds. I love to wear my jewellery and never take it off, so making pieces that will withstand trends and time is very important to me.
Do you have a most treasured item in your jewellery collection?
Oh, that’s hard! I guess my golden Peak Ring. It’s one of the first pieces I ever made, and I’ve worn it for years. It never comes off my finger.
What are you favorite materials in jewelry?
I love working with Gold and diamonds, but I also have a particular soft spot for Australian Sapphires. They are absolutely beautiful and can be found in a range of blues and greens, which I adore!
What aspect are you most interested in exploring these days in terms of design?
Design is always changing, but I am always drawn to traditional methods of making. All of my pieces are hand carved, so I often find myself looking to the past for inspiration. I’m constantly learning and will be taking a Gemmology course soon, too.
How has the use of jewelry changed today?
I think that jewellery nowadays has lost a bit of it’s symbolism. With the rise of fast fashion and cheap imitation pieces, a lot of jewellery is bought without much thought or consideration. This is something that I hope to change. I’d love for people to re-connect with the pieces they buy.
What are upcoming trends in the jewellery design industry?
We’re seeing a turn away from traditional engagement rings. For example, I’m currently working on a beautiful commission engagement ring that has a gorgeous Australian Sapphire as the centre stone instead of a diamond.
What is the biggest risk in your business?
All businesses have risks, but I think as long as you stay true to yourself and keep on going, you can overcome all obstacles.
Which is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from the travels that have influenced your jewellery lines?
That inspiration is everywhere, we just have to remember to look.
What would you describe as the most significant development in your work over the years?
Choosing to only make pieces to order. Unlike other brands that design and produce collections, I only make pieces that people want. It gives my customers more options and allows me to create pieces with a clear purpose and intention.
I know that many jewelry businesses are closing nowadays. How are you facing the crisis that is hitting this field? And what new opportunities do you see?
One of the secrets that applies to any business is to do something that you love. People like to connect with the brands they support, so it’s important to create a brand with honesty and integrity. There is a lot of competition out there, so it’s important to do something different and that has meaning to you if you want to succeed.
Name two style icons you admire
For me, style inspiration can come from anywhere, it’s from my travels, from what I see and feel. If I had to choose a person I’d pick my mother.
What’s next? What’s your vision for the future of your brand?
I’d love to grow RUUSK and eventually build a team with wonderful people who share my vision and passion. At the moment it’s just me, so it would be great to have a large shared studio one day!
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the jewellery design business?
Do what you love. Ask questions, and never stop learning.
And the last question, which is important to me personally. I would like to start doing jewellery design. Where do I start? What courses would you recommend?
I would suggest learn by doing. I studied design at university, but it wasn’t until after I finished that I really got into jewellery. Find a jeweller and learn from them. Let your own passion and curiosity guide you.
Photos: Instagram: @ruusk / collage: Martina Advaney
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