Fashion director Shelly Vella in the green room with Motley

Each week I celebrate a brand committed to implementing practices that won’t cost the earth whilst still delivering beautiful, timeless pieces. This week I’m coveting the jewellery heirlooms curated by Motley.

Sustainability is a much-overused word in the fashion industry right now, basically because it can mean a tokenistic offering from a label as opposed to a circular and considered process. Therefore, when I look at companies to champion here, it’s all about the bigger picture.

The co-founders of Motley, Cecily and Ilana, believe passionately in the art of the craft, they collaborate with designers from all over the world to work on exclusive collections and from the designer’s draft board to the artisan makers, materials used and the final packaging, everyone is fairly paid, everything is ethically sourced and of course, built to endure.

Why do I love the jewellery brand? As a self-confessed jewellery obsessive, sometimes I’m frustrated by the price disparity between mid-range and the less recognisable, finer pieces, so to find a site that fairly and squarely bridges that gap is a joy. I love the element of surprise and the artfulness of the pieces on offer; from Alice Cicolini’s thoroughly modern take on classic inspirations; Alessandro Petrolati’s precious gems immortalised in his beautiful geometric necklaces, rings and earrings, to Estelle Dévé’s love of art, modernist sculpture, ceramics and design reflected in her jewellery. There is a rich offering of pieces to plunder and that you’re sure to simply treasure forever.

18ct gold vermeil Athena cuff, £450, Motley x Hannah Martin

So, Motley, what’s the story behind the brand?

I used to be the director of Louisa Guinness Gallery in Mayfair, which specialises in artist-made jewellery. I coveted the pieces we sold there – they were all about the design rather than stones, but I couldn’t come close to affording them. In fact, I never used to buy jewellery for myself, all I saw was Bond Street diamonds (which I also couldn’t afford), cheap high street jewellery that turned my fingers green or affordable ‘samey’ designs.

The more I looked around me, the more I realised the jewellery industry wasn’t built to bring you properly made, original design at a fair price. Motley was about fixing that. It’s all about bringing the genius of the independent designers to more people. I teamed up with my co-founder Ilana in the summer of 2018 and we launched the business in October 2018.

Three words that sum up Motley?

Brave, creative, quality.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Things you can go wild in, then hand to the next generation.

Galileo ring, £140, Motley x Alice Cicolini

What sustainable, eco-conscious processes do you have in place at Motley?

We are not seasonal or fast fashion; we want people to buy less and better. We believe in fair pay across the board and pay our independent designers a design fee and commission on every sale. All Motleyjewellery is crafted in family-run ateliers around the world where we pay fairly, source reliably and insist on the Motley code of conduct.

We are very proud of our packaging, we spent two years developing industry-leading, sustainable packaging made from recycled pulp and recycled plastic bottle tops.

What are your brand highlights?

Being included in Walpole Brands of Tomorrow’s class of 2021! Also, seeing our Sunny Earrings appear on a MasterChef finalist, which was incredible as she’d purchased them herself!

18 ct gold vermeil Menagerie necklace, £495, Motley x Estelle Dévé

18ct gold vermeil Menagerie bracelet, £495, Motley x Estelle Dévé

What are your best-selling pieces at Motley?

For a long time, we were best known for our statement necklaces: The La Peregrina Screw Necklace by Frances Wadsworth-Jones has been a runaway success – the first limited edition sold out in 4 weeks. The Curator Chain, a collaboration with Estelle Deve, taking inspiration from modern art motifs has also been very successful – it continues to sell out when we restock. More recently rings have been our thing – both the Love ring by Christopher Thompson Royds and Alice Ciccolini’s Neon pink Galileo ring have been sell-out successes – we can’t stock them fast enough.

Shelly’s favourite pieces:

Snake hoop earrings, £150, Motley x Emily Robson

Gold la peregrina pearl necklace, £400, Motley x Francis Wadworth Jones

Luna neon orange necklace, £150, Motley x Alice Cicolini

Eclipse pearl cuff bangle, £75, Motley x Anon 

The curator necklace, £170, Motley x Estelle Deve

Loiseau ring, £140, Motley x Estelle Deve

Long curator necklace with animal charm, £295, Motley x Estelle Deve necklace

Pink galileo ring, £140, Motley x Alice Cicolini

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