The faces behind W&W…

Here’s your chance to meet one of the ‘W’s, our co-founder Richard.

A third generation family jeweller, Richard Warrender founded London based W&W Jewellery in 2008 with his brother, Simon. Their aim was to use their industry expertise and flair for the extraordinary to create unique bespoke jewellery for discerning customers.

Here Richard shares his favourite commissions, how he starts his day and explains why Lauren Laverne and Jo Whiley would be his dream clients:

What experience do you have in the jewellery industry?  

I came into the world of jewellery as an informed outsider. Dad was a jeweller and I often “worked” for him in school and university holidays. This was a great way to learn about the industry and get a feel for jewellery.

Before founding W&W Jewellery in London, I had been working in the fine art world for about ten years, for the world’s leading auction houses. As part of my job, I advised clients on their impressive art collections, which meant I also handled some incredible jewellery – if someone has great pictures on their walls, then they tend to have great jewellery in the safe too!

In 2006, I decided to move into the jewellery industry and have been immersed in every aspect of retail and bespoke jewellery ever since. From valuing to buying, sourcing, selling and marketing, I try to keep on top of everything while always working hard to improve what we do.

In terms of official qualifications, I don’t have any letters after my name, but I did score 98% in my GIA Diamond Grading. My best qualification is 20 years of valuable and relevant experience working with jewellery. This has been the crucial element that ensures every client is well advised and gets the best from us.

What’s a typical day like for you? 

I don’t live in London, so all year round, rain or shine, I take our dog for a walk early every day before I travel up. It is an important part of my day, I can only hope she feels the same!

Then it’s the commute, which is a useful time to get through emails, start working, have a coffee and generally be ready for the day ahead. I am based at our studio two or three days each week and try to keep blocks of time free to concentrate on clients, marketing, commissions and everything in between. But as you would expect, every day is different and unexpected jobs and tasks always come up, but clients and any work we are doing for them always take priority. A lot of our time is spent preparing for client meetings and presentations, or planning jewellery commissions, which is as it should be, given how important the pieces we create are to our customers.

The week is often broken up by visiting clients at home or at their offices, which we tend to combine with other errands or projects. The day usually ends with a trip home on the train with music, a podcast or a good book to wind down.

How do you go about working with a client to create/source the perfect jewellery for them? 

Every commission I work on is largely led by the client, with a bit of guidance from the team and me. I always explain exactly what W&W can do and how we do it. I think this is a really important foundation to every project, because it gives the client a level of reassurance that we are the right company to do business with.

The first meeting allows me to build a picture of the potential piece, collate a series of inspiration images and start the process of finding the right stones. We can then meet again in person to look at the ideas and options in more detail.

If the client is happy, we quickly move on to creating the piece. If they want some changes made, we revisit any number of options before arriving at the approved design. The most important thing to us is that the design is exactly right for the client and just what they had in mind.

We are a small team which works well, as we all get to benefit from one another’s skills – for example, our designer Emma’s talents are a really important element of what we do.

I always keep in touch with clients throughout the commission process to ensure they are happy with everything and know what we are working on for them. One of my favourite parts of the process is presenting the finished piece – it is always a pleasure to see clients so happy with their commission and your work. 

Of all the jewellery that you have worked on, do you have a favourite piece/pieces? 

As a big fan of the magazine Wallpaper I never thought that a piece I had designed would end up on their pages, but that’s exactly what happened with a very special ‘boiled egg’ inspired ring that we created in 2017.

We were contacted by the late John Adie, who had a striking cabochon yellow opal, which he had cut and polished. He wanted to commission a piece based around the stone for charitable sale and I came up with a design based on a boiled egg with an 18ct rose gold egg shell, the yolk yellow opal, and white brilliant cut diamonds. The piece itself was handmade by our highly valued and incredibly talented goldsmith.

I love the fact that the ring in question was a tongue-in-cheek take on the classic English boiled egg breakfast. It also inspired a great client based in Washington DC to commission his own version – making a landmark moment for London based W&W even better! Every piece has a story, but this one just runs and runs. 

Who would be your dream client to create a piece of jewellery for and what would you make them? 

Mrs Warrender? Obviously I’ve made lots of things for her, but there’s always room for more! We have created pieces for British and Middle Eastern royalty, as well as sporting icons – so I have already ticked a few off from the dream client wish list.

I feel very fortunate that we have been able to design pieces for so many extraordinary clients, so I’m not sure who would be next. I really admire knowledgeable and original people and love listening to Jo Whiley and Lauren Laverne’s music shows, so I would love to make a piece for them. The piece would have to capture them and what they stand for so we would want them to throw themselves into the design process and we’d take it from there!

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