Natalie Marie Is Australia’s Answer To Bespoke, Sustainable Jewellery

Photo: Natalie Marie Jewellery.
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A family heirloom, a handmade friendship bracelet, an engagement ring — jewellery often holds sentimental meaning for its owner. And particularly here in Australia, we have access to a wide range of talented jewellery makers that cater to everything from everyday sustainable pieces to get-down-on-one-knee moments. Today, we sit down with the founder of cult brand Natalie Marie Jewellery to learn more about her brand and its sustainability practices.

What is Natalie Marie Jewellery?

Just shy of a decade in operation, its founder Natalie Fitch tells Refinery29 Australia that its ethos has largely stayed the same. “Ultimately [our ethos is] to create pieces of meaning and pieces that become tangible expressions of sentiment that mean more than just something that's kind of transient or something that you wear for a few months. We're really trying to create pieces that stay with the owner, for hopefully, forever.”
There is no one typical Natalie Marie Jewellery customer. “We're lucky enough to have so many different storytelling opportunities [and] different clients. That could be anything from a 16th birthday to a 60th wedding anniversary, or a tennis bracelet for a 70th birthday,” Fitch says. 
I pester her for a favourite story or client she’s worked with, and she proudly tells me about some clients she has worked with through decades of milestones. 
“Some of my favourites are the clients that have been on a journey with us from start to finish. So, like an early client that bought something as a birthday present in the early stages of their relationship and then came back for engagement rings, and then wedding rings, and then eventually [first] Father’s Day presents [and so on],” she says. 
Recently, she’s had the privilege of working on pieces for people who have experienced loss.
“That's also been a really special thing to be a part of, because… jewellery has such a unique ability to… commemorate a loss or mark a moment that isn't necessarily a positive one. It's a huge responsibility to make sure that you can convey that sense of importance and meaning, and give them something that they can truly treasure for the years to come.”

Who is Natalie Fitch?

Before Natalie introduces herself as a jeweller or business owner, she calls herself a mum of her two girls, Willa and Ottilie. Family is truly at the heart of Natalie Marie Jewellery, with her husband Daniel collaboratively running the business.
Fitch was born and raised in Southern England, and moved to Australia at the age of 20. After completely a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney University (majoring in Jewellery and Object), she launched her jewellery label and picked up an Aussie accent — and the rest is now history. 

How are Natalie Marie pieces sustainably made?

Natalie Marie Jewellery houses an enviable selection of collections — from fine jewellery and vintage-inspired ready-to-ship pieces, to ceremonial rings and bespoke creations. Each collection features different materials and different production processes, but grounding every one of them is the commitment to make each piece to order. 
In June of this year, Fitch decided to move away from wholesale and exclusively to a direct-to-consumer model. "We felt ourwholesale channel was beginning to take us away from our core values and we started to feel misaligned," she says.
Its recent Australian Sapphire capsule collection is where Fitch says she’d love to see the rest of Natalie Marie Jewellery eventually end up. With this range (which is one of her favourites), there’s 100% traceability on the stone, from where it’s sourced to how it's handled and cut. Fitch tell me in detail about the mines these stones were sourced from, the optimisation of the cutting of the stones, and the machines that mould the pieces together. She’s clearly incredibly knowledgeable about her art, and is passionate about bringing more transparency into the industry.
“It is a really in-depth process and especially with our bespoke collections, we choose the longer route which is the hand-fabricated really manual process as opposed to more production-based processes,” she says. “The old traditional route is more time consuming but ultimately gives you that really superior finish.”
Throughout our call, Fitch reminds me that sustainability is a journey, and that there are definite room for improvements within her brand. While some things — like its made-to-order process, haven’t changed in the brand's years of operation — elements like sourcing and ethical considerations have surfaced. 
“The last two years we've really been diving deeper into the broader picture of the jewellery industry and understanding a bit more about the outside of our world that we can control," Fitch says. “And that's where we've been working on becoming credited with the Responsible Jewellery Council. [Sustainability] is a continuous journey.”
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