Southern California native Robin Haley has been making jewelry for over 35 years, and it all started with an apprenticeship in Fine Gold Jewelry upon graduation from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise. Three years after her apprenticeship, she started her own business, and within five years she was selling her works to Nordstrom, Fred Segel, Warner Brothers’ and Bubank Studios.
Today, she and her team can be found in Nashville, Tennessee, where all of the jewelry is constructed by hand – custom and made-to-order for each customer – with recycled metals, conflict-free gemstones and African Glass Beads that help ensure jobs in a small African town.
We had the pleasure of getting in touch with Haley this month to learn about making ethical jewelry, how she personalizes her jewelry and designs, what she’s most looking forward to at Luxury 2019 and more. See what she had to say below:
Having gone to FIDM, were you always interested in designing jewelry or was it something you discovered and began exploring during your Fine Gold Jewelry apprentice after graduation?
I was so blessed as to fall into custom fine jewelry about a year after I graduated from FIDM with my design degree. I was training horses (one of my childhood loves was showing horses) and waiting for an apprenticeship to open up in Costume Design at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. It was 1980.
When one day I got a call from a friend of my family. Duane Bertonneau whom owned a beautiful and quaint little custom fine jewelry store in the old time village of Calabasas California named Bertonneau Jewelers. He asked me if I’d help him run some errands since he was so busy with Holiday orders and I cancelled my plans for the day and did. Little did I know that “One” day changed the rest of my life and gave me the career I was destined for! I fell in love with making jewelry and worked in an apprenticeship with Duane for three years and then went out and started my own business. It’s been 38 years and still going strong!
How would you describe your brand using only three words?
Timeless, handmade, and meaningful.
Can you give us an idea of what your design process is like?
Design process “inspired” only! I listen completely to my heart and express only that.
All of your metals are recycled, your gemstones are conflict-free and your African Glass Beads help ensure jobs in a small African town, which is amazing. You clearly care about the environment and humanity. Is nature an inspiration to you when designing?
Yes I’m definitely conflict free, and recycled. I read an article in National Geographic about 10 years ago on the shocking reality of the corruption in Africa around the mining of new gold and decided immediately that my entire business would be conflict free.
How do you personalize your jewelry and designs?
My Artifact as well as all of my fine Collection is my Heart. It’s an expression of the Wisdom and Meaning of life. It’s what I love most to share with the world!
I believe that jewelry was originally created (thousands of years ago and longer) to be given. A token of Love, Beauty and Sacredness to one’s beloved. Whatever kind of relationship that may have been. It’s a material representation of the heart of one to another. A keepsake with Great meaning to behold.
My intention is to offer that same kind of token of meaning, spirit and importance in the most Soulful and beautiful way I possibly can.
I feel my unique offering through my work is this. I am a professional songwriter in Nashville and I love that I can do the research on these ancient tokens and write the profound and meaningful little stories that I attach to each of the tokens. It’s personal yet universal line to reach the Soul. Women often buy them for themselves for strength and support. And when gifted… they are one of the most treasured items one can to give a loved one.
How would you describe your target audience?
I feel that my target audience is the very sincere buyer whom treasures their customer . It fills a place in every store to offer their customer something of importance that speaks to them. It’s not a hard sell, it’s an item that has it’s place in the heart of everyone and is a collectable. These ancient artifacts are handmade by myself…and they are often what a family will hand down through generations and give in the meaningful moments in their lives.
What are you most looking forward to at Luxury 2019?
I am so looking forward to Luxury in 2019 for the chance to share my expanding collection of work with my wonderful current customers as well as many new ones!
To be present in a beautiful room with beautiful buyers just waiting to find that special collection they are dreaming of!
To learn more about Robin Haley, visit www.robinhaleyjewelry.com.