Being in the jewelry industry we get to meet with several great jewelry designers that we admire. We would like to share their work to you. Today I am going to have a conversation with Tura Sugden from Tura Sugden Jewelry. She not only makes beautiful handmade jewelry but is also a very simple and an amazing human being.
We met at a Tory Burch Foundation event in San Francisco two years ago. The day we met was her first evening after quitting her job to start on her own company, Tura Sugden Jewelry.
Entering a conversation with Tura Sugden
Jinal: What type of work you do?
Tura: My jewelry line is called Tura Sugden Jewelry and I started out as an artist and I got a BFA in sculpture and metalworking and that lead to goldsmithing. I worked for a jeweler for seven years but I always wanted to have my own jewelry line. Thus I finally decided do it on my own two – three years ago. I like my creative freedom and control I have on every aspect. It’s so amazing.
It’s cool to know that you are building something from scratch vs. work for other people. And I love making it!
Jinal: What makes your collection unique?
Tura: Part of what it makes it unique is the design that I developed. The setting style that incorporated negative space and has a wire framing around that and create another dimension underneath the stone that’s unique. People always say they have never seen something like this before. Everything is hand fabricated in my San Francisco studio. We use recycled gold and use diamonds that are vintage or ethically sourced. That’s what makes it different.
Jinal: What do you mean by recycled gold?
Tura: The supplier that I buy gold are refiners so they are actually alloying the gold from recycled gold and I also recycle gold in my studio and roll it out again.
Jinal: How do you find out that the diamonds are ethical?
Tura: It’s always hard right, I always take stones from people whom I think I can truly trust because it’s true that you cannot follow each individual stone all the way back to the mine. So the best way to do is to talk to your supplier. You really don’t want to work with people who are a little shady. Most of the family business are doing it for the long time and they are sourcing their own stones. So making the trail as short as possible from the mine to the studio is the way to go. Make right choices and trust whom you are working with.
Jinal: What is your biggest challenge in terms of working on a daily basis?
Tura: One thing that bothers me everyday is not have enough energy to get everything done in a day and that always irritates me. It would be so nice to have a clean slate to work on every morning.
Jinal: What is the difficulty in terms of working with one-on-one clients?
Tura: I actually don’t work to direct customers as I have my jewelry in other stores. But when they do want to work with me in my studio, I get very excited and show them everything. The proper way to make a sale is to actually only to show them a couple of options so that they don’t get overwhelmed. And that’s a huge challenge for me.
Jinal: What are some of the mistakes that you have made?
Tura: One mistake that I have made is buying too much material at once then it sits in the safe then I have too many stones. Its an investment that no one is seeing until it’s put in a piece of jewelry.
Jinal: What should customers watch out for, when buying fine jewelry?
Tura: I think the most important thing when you are buying is fine jewelry is to go somewhere where you think they are trustworthy and not because they are giving you a good deal. Go somewhere where you have met the owner/salesperson and you know that they’ll support you if anything happens to the jewelry. Don’t get too caught up in the clarity and color of the stone. Buy something that you feel more connected to. Pick what you love, don’t worry about what the resale value of a stone is.
Jinal: How do people find out about you?
Tura: You can go to my website www.turasugden.com and that’s where all the images are. And you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. You can also check what all stores is displaying my work here.
Jinal: I was curious about what’s your take on discounts and sales that most of the jewelry stores have?
Tura: I have never done a sale on my jewelry. But if I know a customer that likes something but it’s hard for them to buy it, then I do help them to discount a piece. I don’t discount overall. I built the prices based on what they need to be and if I were a retailer and want to give a discount, that’s up to them. So many jewelers would mark up the price and then give a discount and I feel like it makes other people look bad in a way. But customers don’t understand that price is already built in as a marketing tactic.
Jinal There are some really good companies that don’t have sales like Lululemon, Simon Pearce that they are doing great.
Tura: I guess that’s the way I wanna be to, I want to be able to say that the price is what it is and it’s fair. I had a customer in Canada where he really wanted this one thing and wanted to propose his girlfriend so I gave him a little bit of a discount.
Jinal: What do you do when you wake up in the morning, or explain your morning routine?
Tura: So my studio is in my house, so I wake up and make my tea. Leave the dog in the backyard. Take a cup of tea in my studio and start working right away. Probably answer emails, clean studio and then suddenly my puppy is asleep on the floor and I can actually get some work done. That’s usually what happens although sometimes I have to go out and run errands. But working from home is awesome because from the time I wake up to go to bed I am in the studio. I never have a weekend, I don’t even know what day of the week it is. My days are all the same.
Hope you enjoyed this interview with Tura. Do let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments below.