Jewellery designer Charlotte Cornelius first worked as a jewellery sales rep before opening up her own store in the picturesque seaside resort of Southsea in Portsmouth.
The Charlotte Cornelius store has a custom-built workshop on site, where the designer and her team of goldsmiths create bespoke handcrafted jewels.
In Five Minutes with Charlotte Cornelius, we chat about what inspires its bespoke designs, how Cornelius first got into the business of jewellery making, what exciting collections are coming out this year and how the Southsea workshop is keeping the skill of goldsmithing alive.
Tell us a little bit about your brand.
“Using the ancient skills of goldsmithing, our vision is to design and create precious ‘jewellery for life’. Our team’s mission is to design and handcraft exceptional, creative, sustainable, bespoke jewellery in our own workshop that encapsulates your personality, memories and emotions, which will, in turn, be treasured for generations to come.”
What inspires your designs?
“I’m inspired by our dramatic surroundings of the ever-changing seas, sky and nature, and the contrasting environment of coastal-city living. I am fascinated by shape, texture and contrast, and silhouette – often experimenting with the surface of the metal. Our signature Bubble collections are gorgeously tactile and instantly recognisable. Other times, it could be the discovery of the incredible cut and colour of a stone itself that is the catalyst for a new design.”
What made you want to work in jewellery?
“I was introduced to jewellery making at Portsmouth College of Art, over 30 years ago now. Following my 3D Design HND, I decided I needed more commercial experience, so from there I worked one year in retail and then progressed to a jewellery manufacturer. It was actually travelling around the UK visiting the independent jewellers in the 1990s that made me realise there was a gap in the market for offering individually designed and made pieces, as the choices at that time were so limited. When I found out we were expecting twins, I realised it was my opportunity to start my own business, starting by offering a personal and bespoke wedding ring service. Having gradually grown over 20 years we opened our first shop five years ago and we want to continue to provide the wonderful experience of commissioning artistic, original, bespoke jewellery to more people.”
How are your jewels made?
“Our team are so proud to design, make and set all of our jewellery in our own workshop, which can be seen through the glass partition in our boutique. I always sketch by hand, and it was my dream, when I worked from my home studio, to unify as one team with our goldsmiths on site. Having the opportunity to train up new talent is so rewarding. We are all passionate about keeping creative design and the skills of goldsmithing alive in the UK.”
Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline this year?
“I always have so many ideas. The challenge is more about fitting all the projects in. First, we have a summer collection based on water ripple reflections, which I am just sourcing the freeform stones for – currently it’s proving a bit of a challenge. A couple of very exciting collaborations are also afoot; one with local street artists, and another with an up-and-coming fashion designer working in Paris.”
In February, you took part in The Jewellery Cut Live. What did you bring to the show?
“We introduced our latest Amora wedding and engagement ring pairing collections at The Jewellery Cut Live. We want to bring a sense of adventure into bridal jewellery design. We created relaxed yet glamorous pieces that could be worn alone, paired or even stacked – as these rings are chosen for all occasions. The Amora Rose collection features hexagonal shapes, with both hexagonal-shaped rose-cut coloured diamonds and geometric wedding bands. The Amora universe collection comprises clean knife-edge bands with contrasting curving spheres, all set with richly coloured ethically sourced stones and pavé-set diamonds.”