With its elaborate stone clusters and intricate details, it’s easy to forget Natalie Marie Jewellery is all handmade. “People are often surprised when they come in here and everything is being handcrafted by our jewellers just behind them,” Marie says.
The studio is a small but cleverly used space on the beach side of Avalon’s main drag. Natalie Marie Jewellery took over the shopfront a year ago, undertaking painting, tiling and joinery to convert it from an artist's studio to a multifunctional space for the growing business.
The studio is homey, with artworks by Jordana Henry and Lily Johannah Nicholson, hanging planters and large windows to let light stream in. Everything has been purpose-built to maximise space and storage, with custom cabinetry and brass accents made in collaboration with Mr & Mrs White to store and showcase the jewellery. The back room has a U-shape of custom jewellery benches and the front of the studio, sectioned off with glass doors, combines the consultation room with a retail and showroom space.
A lot of Marie’s time is now dedicated to working one-on-one with customers on engagement rings, a process that from consultation to finished product can take anywhere from a few weeks up to six months. “We have people travelling interstate for engagement-ring consultations quite often now,” Marie says. “It takes a while to get up here from the airport, so we always encourage customers to make a weekend out of it and go up to Palm Beach to explore the area, there are so many beautiful swimming spots and things to do.”
Recently Marie has focused on the process of sourcing her gemstones, learning more about their origins and educating her clients on what to look for in a stone. As we talk she pulls out fine gold pieces with solitaire sapphires in four different shades of pink. “Stones in colours like these really change the way the metal looks,” she says. “We’re working on an education section of our website and it’s going have a thorough explanation of stone sourcing and sustainability. It’s becoming increasingly important for us to have that transparency, and it’s also just very interesting and a part of my work that I love.”
Marie co-directs the studio alongside her husband, Daniel Fitch, who left his career in fashion design in October to join the business. Day-to-day operations run with a team of six, some of whom have been with Marie since the inception of her studio in 2012, when they ran out of the space in their garage at home. They’ve come a long way since then and now manage a significant production schedule with more than 30 retail stockists worldwide plus orders from the online store. The pair puts this down to their close-knit team. “Working with people who have been with you since the beginning is really special; we’re very close and having that trust is really beneficial to the business,” Marie says.
Marie and Fitch live just down the road in Avalon and the short commute to work means they can enjoy their mornings more and squeeze in walks to the headland with their bulldog puppy, Buddy. “It’s the nicest way to start our mornings,” Fitch says. “Going up to the headland together and grabbing a coffee from Class Coffee’s Kombi. It’s a pretty good lifestyle up here.”