Scottish Daily Mail
Norfolk housewife who makes the new Crown jewels
THe £3,500 Dolce and Gabbana dress might be off-limits to most of us, but one aspect of the outfit the Duchess of Cambridge wore as she waved to crowds at the University of British Columbia this week didn’t leave too many eyes watering.
The 18ct gold green onyx ‘Siren Wire’ earrings Kate sported during her Canadian tour were from British designer Monica Vinader and cost a comparatively modest £125.
The Duchess, a fan since 2014, is not the only high-profile fan of the jeweller — celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to elle Macpherson are similarly smitten by her discreet and affordable designs.
In fact, the jewellery — which ranges in price from £30 for a silver chain to £2,495 for a pair of diamond earrings — has proved so popular that just ten years after launching her business from her kitchen table in Norfolk, Monica is already boasting a turnover of £25 million a year.
So how has this down-to-earth mum — whose main indulgence is scrambled eggs in bed with her husband Nick and their nine-year-old daughter Scarlett at 6am every morning — acquired 168 staff, an HQ on a country estate and the adulation of celebrities and middle-class women alike?
‘I ask a lot of myself,’ says Monica, 47, in something of an understatement.
Brought up by Spanish antiquedealer parents, Monica moved to Britain aged 16. Privately educated at Tudor Hall in Banbury, Oxfordshire, she studied art before working in marketing for a jewellery company.
After meeting Nick Zoll, with whom she lived in Argentina and Mexico helping him run fishing and shooting lodges, the couple moved to Norfolk in 2006, where Monica began making jewellery in a studio at the back of her house while caring for baby Scarlett.
She sold her wares at craft fairs and from her living room, her dream to bridge the gap between designer and High Street jewellery. She used vermeil — gold-plated silver — and semi-precious stones to keep prices down.
Monica plays down the stress of juggling motherhood and a fledgling career: ‘I had my studio next to my house, and my baby and nanny next door. I had it easy compared to a lot of women.’
She was helped by her sister Gabriela, 45, now her chief operating officer, whom Monica credits as being ‘key’ to her success: ‘It’s different with siblings — you have that shared history of having punched each other on long car journeys.’
When, in 2009, banks refused to lend them money to finance their jewellery company, Monica re-mortgaged her home in the village of Docking. ‘People thought we were mad launching in a recession, but I firmly believed we had a beautiful product at an affordable price,’ says Monica
The gamble paid off. That year Monica’s signature Fiji bracelet — from £85 — sold out.
Sales later soared, with the company opening three luxury London stores, as well as concessions in Selfridges and Harrods.
In 2014, Monica’s reputation was consolidated when the Duchess of Cambridge was pictured in a newspaper in earrings and a necklace from her riva collection. ‘It was the most surreal moment — I was thrilled. It doesn’t get any bigger than her.’