Designer interview

Roxanne Rajcoomar-Hadden

Roxanne Rajcoomar-Hadden

Fine jewellery designer, Roxanne Rajcoomar-Hadden is based in London, where she creates everyday statement jewellery. Determined to build a fine jewellery company where timelessness, luxury and responsibility intersect, Roxanne designs for a strong woman who is the architect of her own life – embodying the beautiful memories and stories that define us with milestone jewellery. In this conversation on design aesthetics, transparency and free-thinking individuals, we get closer to Roxanne and her practice.

What is your background?
I trained as a rough diamond sorter for De Beers, and after I finished my training, I joined their team where I sorted +2ct diamonds. That was 15 years ago! Since then, I have worked for many brands in an array of roles from Theo Fennell in the Harrods Fine Jewellery room to working in the vault at Bulgari. My last role before starting my brand was with the Australian jewellery designer Lucy Folk.

When did you discover your love for jewellery?
So far back I can’t remember when, but my earliest memory is falling in love with a bottle of White Diamond perfume by Elizabeth Taylor that my mum had when I was around five. I just remember being obsessed with the bottle, and often wondered how I could get the diamonds off the bottle, so I didn’t have to wait for my mum to finish the bottle. Obviously, they weren’t actually diamonds and you couldn’t take them off, so I waited and waited.

And what was your path into designing jewellery?
When I was working in the vault looking at all the Elizabeth Taylor jewellery, I would often think about how I would do things if I were to make it. I realised that I wanted to wear pieces that suited my style, aesthetic, and that carried a story that resonated with me. In 2012 I moved to Melbourne for a year with my husband. I was so inspired by Australian creativity and their love and support for independent brands. I was drawn to their freedom to be creative, and I realised there weren't very many London-based independent brands designing everyday statement jewellery. I started designing my own collection alongside taking a local silversmithing course - I fell in love with the processes, and the feeling that I was capable of being able to adorn someone with jewellery I had created, and so my brand was born. 

How would you describe your design aesthetics?
It’s such a tricky question because it changes all the time. As I grow into my role as a mother of two, I now see the world differently compared to if you had asked me three years ago. My inspiration changes constantly, particularly as I experience the world through the lens of my young children. The only thing that stays with me is telling stories about my journey through my jewellery. I like neutral and minimal tones in every other aspect of my life, my jewellery tends to be bolder. I like it to be noticed, to catch the eye of passers-by, and hopefully lighten their day. I also consider functionality a lot when I design; I like designing everyday statement jewellery, but I don’t take my jewels off at night, so I design jewellery that is comfortable enough to be worn without having to change. 

"There's definitely something romantic about having a diamond sourced by hand from the sea"

And your influences?
I see inspiration in everything I do and everywhere I go. There are some things that trigger positive thoughts in my mind and those things usually lead to a design concept. Food, and ingredients are a huge inspiration to me, how and where things grow, and what we pair them with to create a culinary experience still blows my mind! Currently, I am obsessed with the plants I have managed to keep alive at home, and their venation patterns. I am also massively inspired by architecture and clean lines. This doesn’t mean it is a direct translation into my designs because I am not a perfectionist, but I love how it makes me feel and I interrupt those visuals in my own (slightly wonky) way.

Can you tell us about your view on transparency in the industry and supply chain?
My view is that it is hugely important but should be totally normalised. In my opinion it’s a beautiful process and we should share it with a customer. I think it also helps the consumer to understand what goes into making a piece of jewellery and where our materials come from. It helps us understand the global resources available and the impact it has on us in the West and producer communities. I just hope one day transparency and ethically sourced materials are a given and we shouldn’t have to seek it out as designers. Social media has definitely helped with that because we can have direct access to miners and suppliers.

Fair and ethical practices – what does this mean to you?
For me, it means everyone in your supply chain should be treated and paid fairly for their work. I find it disappointing that we have got to this point – it is a basic concept that humans have been applying to transactions for hundreds of years. I think we need to go back to basics and remember to treat each other with kindness and consideration. I think most people feel the same now - we can just do our best to ensure best practices become the norm. The jewellery industry in particular is doing so much to overcome these issues. We can now create beautiful things with a clear conscience knowing we are part of a journey together with an artisan miner in Tanzania for example. It’s a beautiful collaborative story. 

Your diamonds are sourced via an ethical mining company, which uses an environmentally-friendly method to extract diamonds – what does this mean exactly?
We work with an incredible company called Ocean Diamonds who source diamonds with such a transparent supply chain, which means total traceability and therefore lots of accountability. Divers handpick diamonds from the seabed off the coasts of Namibia and South Africa, with minimal trace left on the environment. They always have their divers and the environment at the forefront of their minds which helps us make responsible and conscious jewels to adorn you for a lifetime. The diamonds are exceptionally high-quality, completely natural, and free from artificial treatment. There's definitely something romantic about having a diamond sourced by hand from the sea...

If someone is unfamiliar with your brand, how would you describe this to them?
I create everyday statement jewellery to tell their stories and document their journey.

Which of course also leads me to representation in the jewellery industry – I’ve read your brilliant and eye-opening piece on Vogue.co.uk – what are the changes, we need to make in the jewellery industry?
We all have unconscious biases that dictate the instinctive decisions we make – I think we all need to consider that when choosing a designer to work with. Having a more diverse industry means we see more wonderful creations that have been inspired by various cultures and lifestyles. It’s exciting to see more of.

Can you tell us about the RRH Diamond Academy?
I created a ten-day programme inspired by my journey in the industry, with the hope to support others on theirs. My vision was to normalise jewellers from the global majority in the fine jewellery category and ensure that knowledge and social mobility isn't their barrier. I wanted the jewellers to have all the insider knowledge they needed to put a collection together from production all the way through to selling. We had a series of speakers who are leaders in their profession to come in to give top tips and advice. I built the blueprint for the academy based on my learnings from creating The Milestone Collection.

Who do you make jewellery for?
My clients are free-thinking individuals, who shop consciously and aren’t afraid to express their individuality. They like to wear jewellery that feels personal to them, and they usually aren’t trend driven.   

To you, what is the role and function of jewellery today?
Honestly, for me it’s to feel great! I don’t just make jewels for high days and holidays; I make jewels to celebrate everyday. 

How can we help you with your jewellery?