Jewellery

Introducing jewellery curators, Facet & Fable

By Farah Shafiq
13-02-21

6 minute read

You probably haven’t heard of Eva and Zoe, or Facet & Fable – and that’s intentional.

Until now, they’ve been diligently building their brand, grounded in years of experience at the top of their game. They could easily be working in-house for any of the big names, Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany, so why did they choose to go it alone? “We’re lucky, because we get to do what we love and we’re so passionate about it,” Zoe tells us. “I mean, it’s not just luck, it is hard work, but I think – [Zoe’s baby, Clara, who’s she’s holding as we chat, gurgles] – the fact that I can bring her with me is pretty cool, it’s amazing,” she laughs.

Yes, they’re working mums. They love diamonds. They finish each other’s sentences. And they’re two of the most powerful women in the jewellery dealing industry. 

“Sometimes we make it look easy and it’s not,” Eva picks up. “We enjoy it and we love it, but it’s not as easy as it looks. We don’t have a team, it’s just us. We’re very discreet, which is going to change as we go a little more public, but we needed to be ready for it. We didn’t want to jump the gun, we wanted to get the timing right.”

And that time is now. Not only have they infiltrated an industry that’s largely dominated by men, but they’re trailblazing jewellery dealing online. “It’s just taking it to another level,” Eva explains. “What we really believe in is bridging the gap between trade and retail. Some of these amazing pieces are so unseen, so we really want to introduce them to more people.”

“What we’ve noticed this year is that some of the biggest sales we’ve done have been with the product unseen – apart from through FaceTime and digital meetings,” Zoe continues. “So for us, online is the next step. There’s a natural synergy, it’s about finding the right path.”

“There’s still a lovely hidden feeling to the industry that our clients love,” Eva adds. “So it’s about exposing it in the right way, while retaining some of the mystery.” 

Revealing just enough of that mystery below, Facet & Fable share their experience as women dealers, what excites them most when it comes to jewellery, how to restyle antique pieces for today, and their expert advice on building a collection. 

Facetfable3 Zoeeva Sandrawaibl
Top: Vintage Bulgari Gem-Set and Diamond necklace Above: Zoë and Eva; photography by Sandra Waibl

How did Facet & Fable come into being?

Z: It’s a match made in heaven between the two of us, because we both have similar early experience, but then our paths evolved. Eva’s really knowledgeable and a real expert in gemstones and also dealing with clients; and my career has taken me from working for some of the biggest names on Bond St – from sales to managing luxury retail from the corporate side. 

E: I think there’s been a general shift in the market of people wanting to move away from mass production. I find pieces that are one of a kind, that have a story and have substance. Finding meaningful pieces is a big part of what we do. It grew and grew, and I knew there was something amazing at my fingertips. At the stage where I couldn’t grow it any more than I already had, I thought of Zoe. She was at the top of her game in luxury retail, and has an exquisite eye for detail. So we joined forces. It was serendipity – we say that quite a lot, with products, with people, matching up with clients. Everything we do is just organic. 

Z: It came together beautifully and we get along so well – we’re both so similar, but also so different. We are extremely passionate, have strong values, we’ve worked from the ground up within the same industry. We amazingly approached each other at the same time – as Eva says, serendipitous. 

It’s all word of mouth. We’ve never done anything beyond that. With a lot of startups, there’s some money that comes in, then the idea is built up, and all of a sudden it launches. We did it the other way around. We had these amazing products that we were already selling to private clients and then the rest just came organically. It’s not the traditional way to build a business, however, it does make it stronger and it’s helped us really set the groundwork.

What’s it like for women in the jewellery dealing industry? 

E: It’s very male dominated, which is surprising because it’s women who often wear the jewellery. It’s really refreshing and amazing to be two women in this business.

Z: It’s not easy and it’s not a battle. I mean, look, I’m here with my four-month-old daughter right now. Eva was in the office working when she had her little boy last year. Between us we’ve got five kids under five. You wonder about the misconception around women bringing their babies to work – how can you make that work, and how can you be taken seriously? But, we do. I think because of the relationships we have built, our shared experience in the industry and the clout that we built up over the last 20 years. And also, what we’ve achieved since we’ve been together, it speaks volumes in our trade to those we work with.

The office is one of the big risks we took early on… but it’s one of the best decisions we made. It’s been a real game changer for us, having that space. It’s so vibrant being [on Bond Street, in London], even being there with kids. Eva had a client meeting one day, so I took Clara for a walk down Bond Street, and ended up selling an engagement ring! It’s the place to be and there’s a sense of community.  

E: Because we’re selling antique pieces – vintage Cartier, 1920s Tiffany – it’s lovely to have the big shops right there. There’s this beautiful synergy.  

Z: And that’s helped us with big dealers, because they’re seeing that we’re selling. So it gives us the credibility.

E: It’s contagious, we thrive on fresh energy and there are less young dealers and women in the industry, so we bring that vibrancy. Everyone’s very excited for us. The industry does choose you… You’re not really invited into it unless you’ve worked hard to get there, they take no fools. It’s very trust-based and a very small industry, they like hard workers. 

Z: These guys are tough, they don’t take any prisoners and they’re like, put your money where your mouth is. There are some big dealers in the UK, very well respected, and they mean business. So we have to show them what we’re made of. 

Facetfable Zoeeva Sandrawaibl
Eva; photography by Sandra Waibl

How do you go about sourcing pieces?

Z: It works in a few ways. Often, we’ll have a brief from a client, and we’ll work with that. Sometimes clients will be fixated on one thing, because that’s what they’ve read is the best. So, we really try to understand what it is that the client’s looking for – Is it a depth of colour? Is it actually that you’re looking for a Kashmir or a Ceylon sapphire, for example, and what are the differences between the two… 

E: We break it down and rebuild it up. A big part of what we do is really guiding, and educating – because we care about the pieces, and we care about our clients so much.

Z: A lot of the time, the pieces that are presented to us just talk to us. I think 90% of the time, we look at the piece, we look at each other and we know we have to have it. 

What are your favourite pieces in your personal collection?

E: Probably these earrings. My lockdown present to myself. I’ve been looking for earrings like this [a Dutch pair, dated 1820] for about three years – when they came to me I knew I had to snap them up quickly. When we’re sourcing, you know when it’s the right piece. With clients, sometimes the longer they give us, a six-month or one-year lead time, will allow us to find something incredibly special. 

Although sometimes things just come up! And we’ll call the client even if they’re not looking, because we know what they like. It’s a lovely, personal relationship. 

Z: For me, it really is an impossible question. I obviously love my engagement ring. And I also got a lockdown present for myself – a vintage Bulgari ring that’s beautiful, it’s a double pearl ring with two little baguette diamonds on it. I do really love that.

Facet Fable Georgian Imperial Topaz And Gold Ring Ja0040 Promo
Georgian Imperial Topaz and Gold Ring

And your favourite pieces in Facet & Fable’s collection?

E: That’s a really hard question. What I love is pieces that are timeless. We have this beautiful piece, it’s an antique carved jet brooch with an antique pear-shaped diamond in the middle and it looks like it was made today, but it was actually made around 1880. It’s unbelievable. 

Z: I have an obsession with bracelets at the moment. We’ve got this bracelet, which we just got last week, and it’s beautiful. There’s a latticework on the back of it, which is how the stones have been set, with diamonds and these oval rubies, all Burmese, all natural. It’s just the most magnificent piece of jewellery.

What’s 2021 looking like for you?

Z: 2021 is a big year for us. In 2020, a lot was put on hold. But it was amazing how we came out of the first lockdown and there was so much resilience in the market. What we found is that the first lockdown, no one really knew what was going on or how long this was going to go on for, and even though that hasn’t really changed, people want to get out again, they want to be spending again. We noticed that from July, people were like – ‘You know what life’s too short, we want to live, we want to do these things now, we want to buy something beautiful, we want to get married!’ We had clients messaging us saying – ‘We’re going to get married in two weeks, can you make us some beautiful rings?’ And it sort of just exploded again from there. We were like yeah, sure, of course we can! 

Facetfable4 Zoeeva Sandrawaibl
Eva and Zoë; photography by Sandra Waibl

What’s your advice for someone looking to build a collection?

E: Find someone you can trust first. We can help guide people. And choose something that you love and that you’re going to wear, not just keep in a safe. It should be worn – enjoy wearing it and have fun. 

Z: The wonderful thing about what we do is we’re often celebrating an occasion. Whether it’s an engagement or a new baby, or a ‘just because’ present, or surviving lockdown, or a promotion, whether it’s a self purchase or a gift. It’s always a really, lovely occasion to celebrate people marking such important milestones.

What we think people should be looking out for is beautiful craftsmanship and pieces they love. Build on that trust. Really being educated on what they buy – so you know what you’re wearing and what you’re paying for. 

Why do you think now is such an exciting time for antique pieces?

E: People want a sense of personalisation or a sense of story, which comes with an old piece. Even one that you’re putting into a modern setting, for example an old diamond into a contemporary engagement ring. The piece still tells the story of the old stone, as well as the new ring. There’s a lasting value with older pieces.

There are parallels with the art world, too. A friend of mine runs a gallery and he was saying that during the pandemic the art industry has been incredibly vibrant. And people have been buying older paintings as well, which bodes really well for antique jewellery. 

Z: The historic references [in art and jewellery] are so cool. People are starting to get creative with where they spend their money and what they want to buy. Clients are more discerning than ever and they want pieces that hold their value, are beautifully made, are unique and that tell a story.

E: I love working with older clients, I love that they really get the old world magic and romance. Young clients are fun as well, really passionate. They tend to be looking for pieces that have a story now and a legacy. Many contemporary stones are heavily mined and heat treated, they don’t have much durability. Whereas everything we do involves recycling the old, repurposing, and teaching people how to wear an antique piece in a contemporary way. 

For example, we have this crescent brooch, but if you wear it around the neckline rather than on the chest, it looks like a really cool necklace. It’s about getting creative and showing people how you can wear jewellery in so many different ways and restyle it, while still getting an authentic beautiful piece. It’s really important for sustainability, to make pieces that last and can be passed on to generations. 

 


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