How much do you REALLY know about where your jewellery comes from?

Yana Zaikin is a fine jewellery designer and creative director of Emily H London. Not only does she design stunning, luxury jewellery, she's also passionate about raising awareness within the diamond industry about ethical fine jewellery. We find out more about this inspiring woman...

How did you get into the fine jewellery industry?
I have been designing jewellery for almost 20 years, which started off initially as a hobby for friends and family before I started accepting orders for bespoke pieces. Then in 2012, I finally decided to create my own line, although bespoke is still an important part of the business.

Ethically sourced stones are such a key part of your brand, why?
My question was: why do diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other stones, which are realistically priced as a rough material when extracted, cost a phenomenal amount of money when they end up in a store? The answer is simple, you as a consumer, don’t have control over the process. You don’t know where the stones are coming from and have no idea if you are really buying what you have been presented. From this moment my vision was formed and I decided to create a brand which would use only ethically produced and mined stones, traceable to its origin, supports small miners and offer competitive prices for stones of very high quality.

What do you love most about your job?
I love every bit of it. I love the vague image in my head, the initial idea that is conceived in my mind, which is then translated into something beautiful. I am always influenced by everything around me but particularly nature. A lot of the collections have a floral/nature element to them.

Describe your typical working day.
The children go off to school at 7:30 am and I take Ginger (my poodle) to Hampstead Heath. Then I head home for a shot of espresso and start work. I often complete designs in one sitting, from the sketch to the final design. During the day I often have appointments or private consultations with clients where I create something bespoke. I always like my clients to be involved as then you know you will create something they will love and cherish. My work day continues until 5 or 6pm when my kids get home from school and I start getting dinner ready, making sure homework is done and then have some time relaxing as a family. I go to bed around 11pm.

Which career achievement are you most proud of?
I founded the 8C Foundation which I chair. The concept I developed is simple, deep and brave. The 8C Foundation incorporates not only the industry recognised 4 Cs (Cut, Carat, Clarity and Colour) but also Comprehension, we need to understand where the gems are mined, Cooperation, we can’t demonize African diamonds and must co-operate with small artisans who can’t afford more modern methods of mining, Compassion, we must only purchase reasonably sourced gems and involve small miners in the education process to establish cutting schools in Africa and finally ‘Coordination’, as an industry we must all embrace these principles in order to raise the quality of life of people involved in the mining and trade process.

What have you learnt along the way?
Be kind and listen to people’s life story before jumping to conclusions.

What advice would you give someone trying to break into your industry?
If you are not inspired by the colours and challenges, if you are not willing to travel around the globe in a search of best ethically produced precious stones, if you can’t stay up whole night drawing, reading, brainstorming, improving the quality, constantly questioning the ‘normal way of doing things then this industry is not for you.

We’re always obsessing over our work/life balance – how do you manage it?
My work is my life; I am living my dream – this is greatest pleasure of my life. I get to travel to France and Italy for business, but often it doesn’t feel like business at all. Every chance I get I take my kids with me, they have been to stone cutting factories, a jeweller atelier with me etc. They love the creative process and are part of everything I do.

Tell us your five-year goal.
We would like to become a global leader in educating the consumer on a grassroots level as to how we shall identify, acquire and cherish the precious stones for the next generation.

Visit the Emily H London website or follow @EmilyHLondon on Twitter.

Get more career inspiration from our MC@Work section.

Looking for more career inspo? It’s not too late to book tickets for Marie Claire’s @ Work Live,

in association with Cointreau and Next. A one-day event on 23 April

2016, featuring advice, tips and inspiration from incredible speakers.

Reading now

Popular Life stories