Born To Run
We did it! Our latest collection; Born To Run which released last summer has been a great success. We are both excited and overwhelmed by the feedback received and sales achieved. We've taken everything to the next level here. We've improved everything, from design to photography, to our marketing campaign and collaboration with Sean Kitching. We are so thankful, humbled and grateful.
It wasn't all plane sailing, however. It's been a lot of hard work. Frustrating even at times because everything simply took a lot longer than anticipated. For the Born To Run collection, we really went back to the drawing board. We sat down and re-examined every element of design, quality, and the processes we use. Our design and making processes underwent a complete overhaul. We also made a lot of changes under the hood that has optimised the way we build our jewellery—whilst improving the quality of every piece. We also decided to do away with some extra parts and cut out some unnecessary processes that didn't add much value to our jewellery and compromised the aesthetics. It was also a chance to iterate on hardware design and loop back a lot of our customers' feedback.
In a way, this took a lot more time and effort. But we decided that putting in the effort now would save us a lot of time in the long run.
Our key goals for this collection:
- Design a Spring/Sumer 2017 collection
- Redesign the hardware
- Not compromise on quality
- Update our website
What we also ended up doing:
- Redesign our tooling
- Redesign our packaging
- Re-examine our supply chain and logistics
S/S 17 Collection
For the new S/S 17 collection, we wanted to design pieces that were both everyday essentials and elegant in style. For bracelets, we focused on a wrap worn pieces. Single bracelets that wrap around the wrist two, three or sometimes four times. These pieces look elegant on their own without looking lonely or can be easily combined with other pieces for a more signature look. We also wanted to double our range of options to suit different tastes. We love using exotic stones and experimenting with materials new to our range, so we've created pieces using baltic amber, exotic azurite, and luxurious 22k gold plating.
Redesigning Tooling And Hardware
Tooling and hardware for us go hand in hand. Most of our tools are used to make, shape and secure the hardware and finish our pieces. We use a camera gear set-up to model and photograph our jewellery. Redesigning our tooling and hardware was one of the areas we spent about a third of our time on, because detail and finishing is one of the things that sets Rocktonica apart. It's a lot of intricate, hard work but we love doing it. We've invested in new tools that make the process of crafting our jewellery more efficient, and the pieces themselves secure and sturdy.
A new material we also introduced is 22k gold plating on sterling silver. We used this for accent beads and also on hardware. Here, we had two goals. 1 - to make sure that the plating was exactly the same on all the elements, and 2 - to make sure that the plating was thick and durable.
Commonly, jewellers would purchase hardware off the shelf that's already plated. Very often this plating varies massively in thickness and carat. This means that in one finished piece of jewellery you could end up with 4 or 5 different shades of gold, varying in quality and in plating carats. For us, this was simply unacceptable. So we decided to custom clean, polish and gold plate our silver in small batches, to our exact standards and requirements, right here in the UK.
The two important factors for us were plating carat and plating thickness. Its common for the plating carat to be 18k or even 14k gold. The lower the carat the less percentage of pure gold used hence the cheaper the cost. However, by downgrading the carat a lot of radiance and lustre found in the warmer brighter tones are lost.
We wanted to strike a balance between luxury and colour. Too high and you end up with a hot-orangey tone (and a soft plating), too low and the result is a faded, brassy colour. For us, 19k gold was the sweet spot.
Another factor when it came to plating was the thickness of the gold plating. This is measured in microns. Many gold plated jewellery available on the market has a gold plating of less than 1 micron and it is not uncommon to find it as low as 0.1 micron. Quality plating floats around 2-3 microns. Having the thickness of plating so thin has several disadvantages. Firstly, there just isn't enough depth or layering for a golden lustre to build up. Secondly, it such a layer is more likely to wear off easily. That was not something we would settle for. Our pieces are proudly well made, and built to last. So insisting on a heard-wearing plating was essential. One that did not compromise on colour, resilience or quality.
We did a lot of field testing and settled on 5-micron gold plating. That's 500% thicker than the industry standard! We didn't stop there. We wanted to make sure that the precious metals used in our pieces were protected from tarnishing. Silver naturally tarnishes over time. Contact with materials like cosmetics, hairspray, perfume, deodorant, body lotion and bleach can speed up the tarnishing process. Other pieces are intentionally patinated and should remain as such. So we went a step further and protected all our precious metal with a special coating. We used a solution that coats the metal with an invisible protective layer that's environmentally safe and long-lasting. Boom!
Finally, some feedback we have received was regarding ease of wear of some pieces. Because we wanted our first collection to be minimal, this meant using small hardware, which made putting on some pieces a little intricate. We wanted to address this issue as we felt that it was important for our jewellery to be functional as well as beautiful. With our new designs and closures, wearing and removing pieces has become asuringly secure and easier than ever.
Take a look at the Born To Run collection here.
Until next time,