Brent Sutcliffe, founder of Sutcliffe Jewellery. Image supplied.
Sutcliffe Jewellery is used to helping others celebrate special occasions but this year the popular jewellery brand is celebrating their own milestone of 15 years in business this year. Talented jeweller Brent Sutcliffe founded the business back in 2004, opening the doors to the Sutcliffe Jewellery’s beautiful Parnell Road showroom. Brent followed in his father’s footsteps, completing a jewellery apprenticeship at home in NZ before heading to London, where he honed his craft in Hatton Garden. Brent earned many awards during his time in London and created exquisite handcrafted pieces that captured the hearts and imaginations of his clients. Sutcliffe Jewellery is also known for designing award-winning jewellery, with each piece of handcrafted fine jewellery made in the workshop out the the back of the Parnell showroom.
We caught up with Brent to find out more about his passion for jewellery, what makes Sutcliffe Jewellery different and what his advice is for anyone buying jewellery for themselves or a significant other.
Can you tell us how you first got into jewellery and what makes you passionate about it?
I first got into jewellery kind of by default. I had spent some time studying business and was failing in a particularly epic way, so with nothing else to do, I started my jewellery apprenticeship with my father. Luckily for me it turned out I really enjoyed making jewellery, although it took a few years for that enjoyment to develop. The reason I’m passionate about it is inbuilt I think, it is just the way I’m wired. Some people enjoy numbers or words, but I enjoy designing and making things, and jewellery allows the precision of engineering and the artistry of being sculptor so it encompasses quite a few disciplines which fits very well with my personality.
Congratulations on celebrating 15 years of your business this year, how has the brand evolved since then and what stands out as highlights for you over that time?
As I had a very clear direction for the brand when I started, the brand itself over the years has evolved in that same direction. The highlights would be making some beautiful jewellery that I never imagined I could do in NZ. There is a demand for very fine jewellery, and we happily meet that demand.
What makes Sutcliffe Jewellery different and what are you most proud of about your business?
What makes us different is our refusal to sell anyone else’s jewellery but our own, and that we still hand make almost every piece. It means that what we do is unique and has a lot of love poured into it. It is a bit like buying a piece of art. Do you buy an original or a print that everyone else has? We prefer the original. I’m proud that we have managed to continue to do that, and not give in the pressure of using CAD. CAD is killing the craft of jewellery making, and I love that we are helping to keep it alive and still creating pieces of handmade art in process.
A ring in the process of being made at Sutcliffe Jewellery’s Parnell workshop.
What jewellery trends are you seeing this year and what are your favourite pieces coming through?
I am seeing three stone engagement rings starting to make a comeback (although the classic single stone engagement ring will never die and will always look beautiful). With that we are also mixing metal more, mostly rose gold and platinum and yellow gold and platinum. We are also selling some big, gorgeous coloured stone dress rings.
What is your advice for anyone buying jewellery for themselves or a significant other?
Quality stands the test of time. A beautifully made piece of jewellery with quality stones will always be beautiful. A poorly made piece with low quality stones will not be treasured by the next generation. So buy quality, and a style that makes your heart sing.
How do you balance the creative and business demands of your role in your business?
With difficulty! I want to spend 99% of my time consulting with customers, designing and making jewellery, and that is juggling enough all by itself. So I have to be very disciplined, in making time to take care of the other parts of the business. That also means delegating parts that I am weak at to those that are very good at it. Part of running a business is working out what your strengths and weaknesses are and getting those that are good at those parts to take care of it. None of us can do everything and when you try, I found I did everything poorly, so delegation is my friend.
Over your career you’ve amassed numerous awards and accolades but how do you personally define success and what does it mean to you?
Those things are nice to have on my CV, along with some kind of financial success, but that is hard to define. What dollar figure is the measure of success? So success for me is how I treat others. Be it in business, family or those struggling in life. If I treat them with disrespect or contempt, then I am dropping the ball.
Beautiful jewellery pieces made by Sutcliffe Jewellery.
How would you describe your personal style and how does it influence your designs?
My personal style I would say is not minimalist. I love the fine detail, the little bit of extra, but always knowing that less is more. Never bring in too many elements, and the elements you do bring, use them carefully.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you keep referring back to?
Do unto others.
How far ahead do you plan and what makes you excited about the future?
The only long term plan I have is to keep the business growing. How that plays out I am not sure. Economic factors play a role in that, so it is a bit of a ‘wait and see’. One thing I like about a small business is it is easy to change course quickly. I’m always excited about a new design I haven’t even thought of yet. There is always something lurking in the depths that only reveals itself when some gorgeous stone sits in front of me. Then over a period of time the design develops and then a beautiful piece of jewellery is made. That is what excites me.
Inside Sutcliffe Jewellery’s Parnell store.