[8 MINUTE READ]
TGIF and welcome back to another Friday Founder interview! This week, we have been loving getting a bit jewelled up for our Zoom meetings. It's a low maintenance way to look polished on a call and we are here for it!
Thankfully, this week, we were able to call in ammunition on the jewellery front. Arseniy Budrevich is a Jewellery Designer and Founder of Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio, a studio that specialises in bespoke, handmade jewels.
We were very excited to pick Arseniy's brain about all the sparkly things and the less sparkly things related to starting his own studio. So, grab yourself a coffee, get comfy and enjoy the interview...
"I didn’t have to force myself to ‘become someone’, it just came naturally, and over time I started to see myself as a jeweller."
Morning Arseniy! So happy to have you. Please could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
I was born in Western Russia, to parents who were studying jewellery. I was raised in that world - art and jewellery - so it wasn’t really a surprise that I became interested in it, having been around it for so long. I was always attracted to tools and wanted to do stuff with my hands. I loved art and design technology at school, but I found reading about something and not practising it very boring. Whenever people asked what I wanted to be when I was older, I found it hard to imagine becoming ‘someone’, because that always seemed tied to the things I did not like at school.
When I was a child, jewellery was always around me so it seemed very normal, and therefore, unremarkable. Because of this, I never thought I would go on to become a jeweller. I was never sure what I wanted to be, but following a mix-up and not knowing what to do, I began working for my dad.
I started at my dad’s workshop because I wanted to make a chain to wear. I learned the skills it took and realised that it was actually something I really enjoyed. I came back again to make another, and the rest - as they say - is history! I have been hooked ever since. In the end, I didn’t have to force myself to ‘become someone’, it just came naturally, and over time I started to see myself as a jeweller.
What a refreshing story! So how did your career progress from there?
After having soaked up all the knowledge I could from my dad, I decided to move to London. I didn’t know anyone in London of course, or really much about the U.K... including the language. Everything was a new beginning, and it has been a long road to ending up where we are now.
My first job in London was working for a casting company doing casting cleanup. It was a very big step down in quality from my dad’s perfectionism and the beautiful workshop I had become accustomed to. It was a small, dirty workshop that produced cheap jewellery, but after knocking on all the doors in Hatton Garden, offering my services, I had to take what I was offered. I saw it as my first little success, and it gave me a start in the British jewellery industry.
After working in the business for a short time, I offered them my setting services. At this point, no one was doing optical diamond setting, but I had already learned it from my father. This gave me an edge and I surprised a lot of people. Along the way, I proved that my setting quality has always been incomparable to the competition. The optics allow you to set very small stones with super high accuracy, and accuracy is exactly what you want in jewellery.
How fascinating. So when did you decide to start up Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio and why? Was the timing important?
I have been living in the U.K. for nine years and working for myself for eight of them. In the beginning – after leaving my full-time job – I was renting a bench and stone-setting for trade clients. After a few years, I had a steady stream of loyal clients and it felt right to start something bigger. In February 2016 we launched Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio, bringing together the best craftspeople in the country and creating the most desirable jewels, all under one roof.
That must have been so exciting for you! How does Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio consider sustainability throughout the manufacturing process?
Sustainability is an incredibly hot topic at the moment, and I think it is difficult to break into the industry without having those ethical credentials under your belt. We use recycled gold in all of our creations and often recycle gemstones when creating bespoke pieces for customers. Any new gemstones we use are ethical and conflict-free, following the Kimberley Process, which allows for transparency in the supply chain.
Transparency is so pivotal for businesses nowadays. Do you think people are more conscious of the materials in their jewellery nowadays? If so, why?
More people are paying attention to where things come from and a lot of this is because of the media – first, it was food, then clothes and now, finally, the spotlight is on jewellery. The media has exposed a lot of the negatives within the industry – blood diamonds and unethical working practices, for example - and it has made us stand up and ask: ‘where does my product come from and how was it made?’ Our jewels are cruelty-free; we are artisans and we make sure every step of the process is ethical.
That is fantastic to hear! What do you think were your biggest challenges in starting up Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio?
After less than a year in the U.K, I had managed to save up as much money as I could, so I went home on holiday. While I was there, I bought another microscope in Saint Petersburg and got a bench as well, having decided to set up a small workshop in my room in London to do some work on the side. When I wanted to take my stone setting tools back from the casting company - meaning they would have to buy their own - they refused as they did not want to spend the money. Ultimately, they ended up pushing me out.
It was not easy. I had spent all my money setting up a bench in my room and when they let me go I was very stressed. I had no plan and very little capital. I started receiving orders and took on as much as possible with barely any spare time; luckily it seems to have worked out. I will always be grateful to them, firstly for giving me a job when I needed one, and secondly, for firing me.
Wow, talk about a challenge! That must have been a very tricky time. What strategies do you think have been key to the success of Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio?
For four years, we have been handcrafting jewels in our Hatton Garden studio for some of the most renowned high jewellery houses in the world, and we invest exactly the same amount of skill, craftsmanship and attention to detail in our private commissions. At Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio, we specialise in handmade bespoke jewellery, made to the highest standards by artisans who are experts in their craft. With so much love and attention paid to each piece, we celebrate life’s special moments with memories that will last a lifetime.
As one of the few jewellery houses in the country where all the craftspeople are under one roof, we not only have the ability to create your perfect piece from start to finish but as the customer, you can have a direct to craftsperson relationship. We provide full dedication and, in turn, we are well recognised and highly regarded in our industry.
That personalisation is truly unique. I love it! What is your favourite thing about your job?
It sounds cheesy, but in all honesty, it is putting a smile on someone’s face. Knowing that you have made a piece that will be treasured always feels good and makes you want to come back to work and do it all over again.
Absolutely! And which is your favourite piece that you’ve ever created?
It changes all the time! Right now, the Deco Rose Earrings are my favourites. The combination of metal and stones along with the shapes and proportions make them stand out to me. Naturally, however, the first chain I ever made has massive sentimental value and will be something I cherish forever.
"I am inspired by the biggest players in the industry; those jewellery houses that are always on the tip of your tongue when you think of fine jewellery."
Those earrings are stunning! Do you have a Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio “pinch-me” moment that you can tell us about?
From time to time I will stop, look up and see my studio for what is: a positive, creative and beloved space with state-of-the-art tools and a great team. That is when I think, ‘this is the dream that I have been working towards'. It is so heart-warming, humbling and sometimes, a little overwhelming!
How personal. Thank you for sharing that! What inspires you?
I am inspired by the biggest players in the industry; those jewellery houses that are always on the tip of your tongue when you think of fine jewellery. I am inspired by them because they are my competition and because I will always aspire to be better than them.
That is a great goal! Could you describe what an average day looks like for you at Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio?
I try to spend as much time at the bench as I can, but that is not always the way it works out! I wake up early and am in the showroom first thing, answering emails and chatting to clients (virtually at the moment, of course)! I spend the rest of the morning setting and, if I am lucky, I can continue on at the bench after lunch. As a business owner, you have to make sure all the less exciting admin bits are done before you can move onto the fun part, which for me, is actually making the jewellery!
That is so relatable! Do you think you have mastered the coveted work/life balance?
Absolutely not, haha! I work all the time! But what business owner doesn’t? Seriously though, I dedicate the majority of my time to the business, which has meant that for the last four years I haven’t had much of a life. However, I am currently working on the balance thing, although it has not really gone to plan thanks to lockdown!
I bet! What words do you live by?
“Think. Do.” Although I try to live by that rule, sometimes I do it the wrong way round!
Haha, don’t we all? What’s next for Budrevich Fine Jewellery Studio?
We are currently looking at ways to give more clients the opportunity to use our services. Our business has been built on work we have done within the industry – setting for some of the most established jewellers on Bond Street – so, we are working on reaching people on more of an individual level. And, of course, we will continue to make more beautiful pieces to be treasured forever.