We’re joined by Lily Arkwright co founder and company MD, Lauren Shanks.
Lily Arkwright has redefined the standards for beautiful lab grown jewellery with vibrant collections of diamonds, moissanite and precious gemstones, ethically & sustainably produced and crafted in the UK.
Lily Arkwright has received a huge amount of hype and praise in recent years, with this in mind we delve deep into one of the names behind the brand and look into Lauren’s past to find out about her jewellery background, her love of sparkling jewels, and we want to know more about the precious stone moissanite.
Q. Can you tell our readers a little bit about Lily Arkwright, what sets you apart from other jewellery retailers?
A. We like to do things a little differently here at Lily Arkwright, no stuffy sales environment, amazing pricing and quality that really exceeds all expectations. Typically our customers can expect to save 90% on one of our popular moissanite set rings compared to a high street diamond equivalent. We find these savings really help when planning a wedding or honeymoon.
Consumers shouldn’t feel pressured into utilising their savings pot or overspending on a diamond engagement ring, we find couples often place more value on life experiences and purchasing a moissanite or lab grown diamond engagement ring helps achieve this.
Q. Is a moissanite gemstone the same as a diamond, is there any difference visually?
A. Moissanite is in fact rarer than diamonds and was initially mistaken as a diamond when first discovered, for this reason the vast majority of moissanite is now lab grown and engineered to give the illusion of similarity to diamonds.
We’re proud authorised Charles & Colvard retailers and set moissanite stones in all our rings as standard. Charles & Colvard are the original moissanite produces and their stones are really the very premium quality moissanite stones available today.
We’re obviously huge moissanite fans but really do believe in choice and set lab diamonds, Chatham couloured precious gemstones including rubies, emeralds and sapphires in all our collections.
Q. Does your working career stem from within the jewellery industry, or did you come from a different business sector?
A. I actually started out in fashion design and subsequently moved into fine jewellery several years ago. Fine jewellery has always been a passion of mine, when the opportunity arose to combine my passion for fine jewellery and my experience within eCommerce and the digital space It was impossible to refuse.
My professional career for the past 15 years has been tremendously exciting working within the luxury brands sector within digital, eCom Management and operations & retail.
Q. HOC. Your designs start in price from around £300 and rise to around £4,000 – do you have a current favourite piece from your collections?
A. Gosh, I have so many favourites. The Giselle, Eden and Annora, the list is endless!
I love the Grace classic solitaire, its elegant, classic and timeless, this setting really does show off the centre stone setting in the best possible light.
I wear a customised version of the cushion cut Lavender for my engagement ring, and am I having 3.0mm wide full set band for my wedding ring. We’re actually introducing this design as the Aurelia band as part of our new collection later this summer.
I really enjoy mixing my metals and often wear rose alongside my white gold and platinum rings.
Q. Do you wear your own Lily Arkwright designs along with any other designer jewellery brands, or do you only wear Lily Arkwright?
A. I do, I genuinely love the collections we produce and the team and I are forever personally testing new Lily Arkwright designs. It really helps to fully trial a design and there’s no better way than wearing one.
I’ve recently been trialing a lightweight petite three stone Lorella ring, with a moissanite centre stone and lab grown blue Chatham sapphires on the middle finger of my right hand for the last few weeks, I’ve had so many lovely compliments and the band is actually a really comfortable fit even at 1.75mm.
I frequently wear a select few other designer jewellery brands alongside my Lily Arkwright jewellery, I love to see how designers interpret trends.
I also never take out my Sena moissanite platinum stud earrings, these go with almost any outfit and occasion!
Q. Your Instagram @LilyArkwrightUK showcases some of your designs beautifully; do you find social media helps to promote your brand?
A. Absolutely, social media is great to showcase some of our beautiful collections and is essential for us. Our Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and other profiles helps our customers quickly view some of our favorite designs with photos and videos readily available.
Q. Did you have to take any specialist courses in fine jewellery or art design before you launched Lily Arkwright?
A. I was fortunate to have studied Fashion design whilst at university and my family come from a jewellery background so this provided me with a really strong understanding of the fine jewellery market. This was obviously only the start and it took us a number of years of market testing, pop up shops and market stalls before Lily Arkwright was finally born.
We’ve come a long way since those early days and are now proud Assay Assured jewellers retailers and members of the National Association of jewellers. Our teams are JET trained and our workshop have some of the most skilled and experienced bench workers in the United Kingdom. We offer free UK & European shipping and delivery worldwide.
Q. Did anyone offer you any useful business advice before you launched Lily Arkwright that you still use to this day?
A. I’ve had so many wonderful mentors throughout my professional career and I’ve always tried to remember and more importantly implement useful advice, it almost becomes a habit.
In my experience nothing is more imperative than, honesty, hard work, integrity and smart working. This is something that both myself and fellow directors really impress upon our colleagues on a daily basis.
Q. If you were to offer one piece of advice to someone thinking of getting into the jewellery sector, what would it be?
A. Working within the jewellery sector is both extremely challenging and rewarding, in particular bridal jewellery. You have the honour of helping a happy couple make one of the single most important purchases they’ll ever make, something that will grace a bride’s finger for the rest of time and be passed down through family generations in the future, the thought of it gives me goosebumps!
My advice would be to follow your heart, if you love jewellery and enjoy helping people there’s really no limit to what you can achieve. Doing something that interests you and drives your passion is immensely rewarding and benefits you, your employer and the people you serve, your customers.
Q. What are your plans for the future, do you expect Lily Arkwright to move into the high street?
A. I’m tremendously excited about what the future holds for Lily Arkwright, we’ve only recently moved into a new larger office space and continue to grow the team making strategic hires and new appointments.
We have a number of opportunities available on the high street and have recently opened our very own consultation space in our Didsbury head office. This has been invaluable for our customers who can find it difficult to visualise some of our lab grown diamond alternative engagement rings.
In addition to our recent accomplishments, after a number of years in trials we’ve recently rolled out our very own brand moissanite, Lumoie by Lily Arkwright, this stone which was initially aimed at our value pieces is now available in most of our popular rings.
Thank you for taking the time to answer all our #BossBabe questions for House of Coco Magazine.