We are thrilled to introduce you to Alex Monroe behind his eponymous jewelry brand in this Q&A interview! We first met Alex when we were on his podcast, This Is A Token, and we fell in love with his nature-inspired jewelry. Alex’s nature-inspired British jewelry has been worn by Kate Middleton, Emma Watson, Sienna Miller and many others. Learn all about how he became a jeweler, his design process, how his jewelry is sustainable & more.
We love that you set up your business after not being accepted to fashion college. Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who doesn’t get what they were hoping for or experiences something disappointing like that?
There’s a saying I like; ’Things turn out best for people who make the best out of how things turn out’
It sounds kind of obvious – but I didn’t get in to fashion school, I got in to jewellery school… I didn’t realise it at the time but it was the best thing that could have happened!
What interested you in jewelry?
Well, I loved fashion and I loved making things so it was a really nice combination of the two.
I’m quite an anxious person so there’s a real comfort in my familiar old jewellery bench and all my tools. When you design jewellery you’re thinking about how great the person will look when they wear it. While you’re making jewellery you’re in your own little world and it’s probably the most calm and happy I can ever be.
Will you walk us through your design process?
I have so many thoughts and ideas and I see so many interesting things I note everything down in my sketchbooks, and I collect stuff like leaves and feathers… so my sketchbook is like my brain dump!
When I think about turning some of my thoughts into jewellery, I develop those sketches and imagine how something might look or wear on the body. Then I’ll get onto my workbench and work the designs into a three dimensional piece. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t – but every idea has a value and can always be revisited!
Will you tell us how your jewelry is made?
The original is made by hand, by me. And now I have a design team so I do get help!
Once we’re happy with it, we’ll think about how to put it in to production. That will often mean using the casting process, combined with hand making – but we will always use as many hand craft techniques as we can to faithfully reproduce the original to sell – and we always make everything here in the UK.
How are your designs tied to being British?
I am pretty British I guess, so my work will always reflect that.
But I love the sun, and have a strong connection to Italy, plus my mother is half French – so there are other influences there. I just do what I do without over thinking it… my signature style is quite strong so I think I’ll just keep on being me.
Your jewelry has been worn by Kate Middleton, Emma Watson, Sienna Miller and many others! What have you learned from working with these women?
Well to be honest, I don’t really think about that when I design.
I might have an idea for the feel of a collection, like maybe a young woman daydreaming in the 1940’s or a young Sophia Loren in Naples….actually – that is a big hint for our Summer collection!
So when someone wears a piece it’s a wonderful surprise – and always lovely to see how fantastic they look in it!
How is your jewelry sustainable?
I’m a bit nervous of using the word ’sustainable’.
We do everything we can to do no harm, to people or nature when we make and sell our jewellery. We also support women in developing countries, for example to learn skills or set up workshops, but supporting a community overseas will increase our carbon footprint. It’s all a balance.
The main thing is that we’re open and honest, we don’t tell people what to think. We publish the carbon implication and ethical benefits of every piece so our customers can make their own minds up.
We love your podcast, This Is A Token! What’s something you’ve learned from your guests? Or what’s your favorite thing about having a podcast?
Well, the first thing is I must thank you both again for coming on! We do love our friends in the USA – interviewing an American is always really fun for us more reserved Brits!
Having a Podcast has been a real privilege, as I have met so many amazing people who have shared stories about the sentiments behind their jewellery.
What inspires you?
Everything and anything. A leaf. An ant. A trip to Naples. A movie. Someone passing me in the street. Anything. Most of all I love working with everyone in my company – I am lucky to work alongside so many talented and inspiring young women!
What’s next for you?
Oh my gosh more of the same please! I’m just working on a new collection for next year, so all my focus is unmaking lovely new things at the moment.
Where can people find you?
Come and say hello if you’re ever in London. We have two stand-alone stores, in London Bridge and Covent Garden. Have a look online, as we ship all over the world, and of course follow us on social media! Also – please come and say Hi when I’m doing an event or something in the USA!
Discover & shop Alex’s jewelry:
Alison + Delia