We talked to Nilufer Kizilkaya, Founder and Designer of GFG Jewellery to see what makes her tick…
La Maison Couture: Your switch from Investment Banking into Fine Jewellery was perhaps an atypical career move? When did you realize you wanted to work in Jewellery?
GFG Jewellery: I always have had a love for jewellery, born into a family where my mother and grandmother appreciated jewellery, and an upbringing within a culture of appreciating jewellery; it was something that belonged to your daily wear. I decided that I wanted to work in jewellery in 2001 and that is when I started studying silversmithing and broadening my knowledge on the business that I wanted to set up.
La Maison Couture: Do you find that switch has meant you can find a balance between the role of business manager and creative? Can you be one without the other in this industry?
GFG Jewellery: I do not think you can be one without the other if you wish to be successful. At the end of the day, you are creating something but along the pleasure you will gain from someone wearing your designs if you wish to bring this to a bigger scale you have to see this as a business and treat it accordingly. You need to be clear on your strategy even if it might take you a while, you need to know the market, your financials. After all, for the long haul you will need to see this as a business.
La Maison Couture: How would you define the ideal GFG Jewellery customer?
GFG Jewellery: I do not have an ideal clientele, but I design for the modern woman without any age limits. Someone who is confident, knows what she likes and loves a bit of sparkle in her life. We are also finding that the younger market are being drawn to coloured gemstones for engagement rings, which my designs work perfectly for.
La Maison Couture: Can you describe your creative process? How do you go about envisaging what your pieces will eventually be like?
GFG Jewellery: My creative process always starts with the gemstones. After I see, purchase and play with the gemstones in a very quiet relaxed moment; usually in the mornings an idea will pop in my head how my next design should look and I will then start drawing. My designs always start with rings, as I love stacking them – they are the cornerstone of my collections.
La Maison Couture: Could you tell us about your decision to work with Gemfields? What attracted you to work with them?
GFG Jewellery: I wanted to work with Gemfields as I am a strong advocate of responsibly sourcing gemstones. As a jeweller I find it very important to know where the gemstones come from, that I can trust the information my suppliers provide about the quality and the process the gemstones go through;Gemfields is able to do this. On top of this I also contribute to the community where the gemstones are mined, as Gemfields invests back into the community through social projects in the areas surrounding their mines.
La Maison Couture: What advice can you give other designers to making their businesses more ethically positive?
GFG Jewellery: Do your research; take an interest in where everything you use is sourced. Today, the consumer is far more conscious and understanding of the implications of their purchases, especially when it comes to high value pieces, so it’s important to do the utmost you can.
La Maison Couture: What are your goals for the next few years?
GFG Jewellery: I would like to first grow in the UK and European markets and then to expand towards the US. In terms of the collections, I look forward to seeing where my inspiration takes me; it would be great to see more strong-minded and beautiful women wearing my designs.
La Maison Couture: If you could design a piece for one person, who would it be?
GFG Jewellery: I could choose anyone then it would be Audrey Hepburn. I believe that she is the quintessential role model for the modern confident woman. Her social responsible role that she carried out as a Unicef ambassador, the fact that she was British but also had Dutch heritage resonates with me on a personal level. And that’s before I even touch on her her career and her natural beauty. However, if I had to choose someone with us now, it would be a call between Madonna and Rihanna – two very strong confident women.
La Maison Couture: Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve designed or that you like to wear?
GFG Jewellery: To be honest this is a very tough question to answer, as I only design pieces that I would wear. If you were to see me today, I am wearing 2 Claire bracelets, the Claire diamond huggie hoops, Mara stud, Ellie necklace, Claire Bar sapphire necklace, four stacking Claire eternity rings, Ellie ring, the Seraphina wing ring. More is definitely more in my eyes!
Smart or Casual? Casual Smart
Day or Night? Day
Ruby or Emerald? Ruby
London or Paris? London
Shop our selection of GFG Jewellery Collections online at La Maison Couture