Bec Astley Clarke founded her online jewelry brand in 2007 – years before other fine jewelry brands entered the online space. Growing up with a love and appreciation for fine jewelry, Clarke comes from a family of pioneers in their field, (her grandfather Sir Cyril Astley Clarke discovered the cure for Rhesus Negative babies), therefore leading the online charge for fine jewelry was in her blood. Astley Clarke tells their customers to “Go Precious Every Day,” – a mantra their clientele must approve of as the brand has since moved offline and is a bestseller in major retailers: Selfridges, Liberty, and Harrods.
How did you discover your love of fine jewelry?
I have always loved fine jewelry, my mother was always adorned in it and I started collecting pieces from a young age. My first proper piece was a Tiffany & Co Elsa Peretti Cuff for my 18th Birthday. I still love it.
Can you walk us through the process of launching Astley Clarke?
My vision was and still is to create a British luxury jewelry brand with ecommerce at its heart, celebrating design and craftsmanship. I recognised a gap in the market between Bond Street and the High Street for design-led fine jewelry, additionally, I saw that big luxury jewelry brands were slow to move online and really own the space. Astley Clarke was a pioneer in that we launched a fine jewelry brand online, something that had never been done before and that critics at the time thought impossible. In the last few years we have launched offline with a number of luxury retail partners and I am a firm believer in being omni-channel.
What has changed in the retail landscape for fine jewelry since 2007?
I believe the fine jewelry landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years. Women appreciate innovative design and are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to unusual gemstones and metals, compared to ten years ago when the market was saturated with white gold and diamonds. Additionally customers have much more confidence to purchase luxury fashion fine jewelry online.
You’ve created a brand based on the belief that women “should be afforded the luxury of Going Precious Every Day.” Can you elaborate on this sentiment?
I believe that women should wear beautiful jewelry every day, whether wearing jeans and a t-shirt or a cocktail dress. Diamonds shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions.
How would you define your clientele?
The Astley Clarke customer is an intelligent, empowered woman, and most of all – she understands contemporary design.
Having been awarded the MBE for Service to Jewelry by the Queen must have been a career defining moment – can you describe what it was like for you?
Absolutely. It was such a shock when I heard of the nomination, but the best recognition I could wish to receive as a British woman in business.
Now, what’s the Queen like?
Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet the Queen, Prince Charles awarded me my MBE. He was as utterly charming and polite as I had expected.
Sienna Miller, Poppy Delevingne, Cameron Diaz have all been photographed in Astley Clarke – what do these women have in common that represent the brand so well?
They’re confident, self-assured women with clearly defined style.
London Fashion Week just ended; did Astley Clarke show a new collection?
Our key collection presentations don’t follow the fashion calendar and take place at different times of the year which is a bonus for me as I can attend some fashion shows rather than worrying about my own.
Do you enjoy going to the shows? Any favorite designers you like to see worn with your jewelry?
I just love Osman and have a few of his pieces that I regularly wear alongside my Astley Clarke jewelry. Other favorites include Victoria Beckham and the iconic Alexander McQueen, I can’t wait to see his upcoming exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum.