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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with Oak fine fairtrade jewellers

We catch up with Jo-Anne Owdud and Parul Tolentino, owners of Oak: a fine jewellery boutique selling gorgeous forest inspired Fairtrade jewellery. Lovely.

Written by Hannah Bullivant

Illustration by Faye West

The inspiration behind Oak jewellery is evident in its name. Delicate leaf motifs, cialis 40mg woven twigs and acorn designs abound, all inspired by the mighty Oak tree. We fell in love with their designs, adding them firmly to our one-day wish list. But when we discovered that Oak use fairtrade gold we realised that there’s more to this jewellery than first meets the eye.

We caught up with Oak over a virtual cuppa and talked all things Gold (“Gold! Always believe…” Sorry…)

Can you introduce oak to us in one sentence?
OAK is a Super-Luxe, ethical, fine jewellery brand with heart.


Illustration by Natasha Thompson

Who are you and what floats your boat?
Oak is run by myself, Jo-Anne Owdud and my partner Parul Tolentino. Parul and I are quite different in our styles; expressed through our clothing or our homes. But we always seem to love what the other is into. Parul is currently into her Papier-mâché antelope head, taking pride of place in her bedroom whilst I am frequenting Victorian fireplace graveyards on the hunt for the perfect reclaimed fireplace! Family is also a big part of our lives, especially our children. We are secretly trying to arrange their marriage after their first moonlight river stroll on Valentines. They are 1 and half and 2. We don’t think this is extreme!

How did Oak come about?
We both worked in the fashion jewellery world for some time. Then, when Parul moved south of the river it meant we saw each other a lot more, particularly when we both had our first children. One fateful day we were having a very nice pub lunch when the journey of OAK began. Many more pub lunches followed; this time with sketch books in hand! It has been a long journey but a steady one. It’s taken us around 9 months to get us to the position to launch.


Illustration by Daria Hlazatova.

What are your design inspirations?
We love objects that have a story to tell, whether that’s with a sentimental meaning, or perhaps something unexpected. Historical references play a big part in what we love to explore and our surroundings are a huge inspiration. The Richmond Park collection was inspired by the sentiments of family and life, conveyed through the power of nature and our namesake; the ‘Oak’ tree. It’s also our favourite playground.

I am a big tree lover (!) and have noticed a lot of tree inspired designs in your jewelry. What is it that appeals to you about them?
We took our name from the mighty Oak tree because it evokes strength, beauty and a sense of the elegance of British heritage. We also love the thought of ‘if trees could talk’. What would they tell us about all they have seen over their years?

Where do you see your shop in 5 years time?
We aim to be at the forefront of ethical luxury jewellery and to be a recognised global British brand.


Illustration by Avril Kelly

Some might say that it was brave launching a new business, especially a luxury jewellery company, in a recession. How have you found it? What have been the best and worst moments?
Starting a new business is such a huge task and a risk in any climate but we both found ourselves in a position to start OAK that we couldn’t let pass. Our best moment was receiving our finished collection at 7.15am one-weekday morning. The worst was when we were looking for British manufacturers to work with and we were met with so many disheartening stories about the recession. This led to a lot of reluctance from people not wanting to take the risk with working with new designers.

Do you have any advice or tips for any other aspiring entrepreneurs?
We spent a lot of time discovering and defining what we wanted OAK to be. This helped us believe in ourselves, and to know who we are. Also it has been helpful to take a step back at times and assess where we are. This has led to a few positive directional changes. We also haven’t been afraid to ask for help in some areas. Our blog has been quite cathartic too for us and we used it log our journey leading up to our launch.


Illustration by Avril Kelly

What are your ethical motivations? ie what are the issues that get you fired up?!
With all the information available these days with regards to ethical business it just seems irresponsible not to act on it. Who would want to receive something with love if someone has sweated tears over it?

Can you tell us a bit about why you chose to use fairtrade gold?
Fairtrade monitors and regulates the production of gold. This is important to us and for our customers to be reassured. We also feel that using ethical gold is important to the sentiment of heirloom pieces. Luxury jewellery is an investment for the future and we feel that part of its value is that it is made in an ethical way. Our gold is from Oro Verde, which has been awarded Fairtrade status. We are awaiting our own license.


Illustration by Natasha Thompson

Thank you Oak Jewellery! To see more of their work, or visit their shop, see their website here.

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One Response to “An interview with Oak fine fairtrade jewellers”

  1. [...] posted here: Amelia's Magazine | Interview with Oak fine jewellery Posted on May 5, 2011 by admin. This entry was posted in jewellery and tagged designs-abound, [...]

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