ACID member Louise Parry is one of UK’s leading, – award-winning, jewellery designers. Included in her many accolades, she was the 2019 recipient of a Highly Commended from Future Icons Accessories Award and has been featured in the Financial Times, The Evening Standard, and Vogue. In 2014, Louise had the honour of being made a Freeman of The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and in 2019 she received the Freedom of the City of London.
From her studio in the Cotswolds, this talented artisan creates one-of-a-kind jewellery, timepieces, and silverware in gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Each piece is uniquely crafted, from a gem-set clock in silver and gold to limited edition sapphire cufflinks, and her pieces are often passed down as a cherished family heirloom. Louise also takes on commissions, to create valued, one-of-a-kind designs to respond to her client’s design brief. Her stunning collections are on display and available for purchase from her shop, website, as well as in select exhibitions and galleries.
Louise has learnt through her successful career as a sought-after designer, to go belt and braces about protecting her designs and intellectual property (IP) rights. She lodges all her designs on the ACID Databank to create third party dated evidence of the date and time they were uploaded, thus creating a design audit trail behind her work. Louise also places ACID signs in her shop window, across literature promoting her designs, and on social media.
Having had disheartening experiences with copying, she has learnt from those situations, found the knowledge to further protect herself, and as a true creative, feels emboldened to be more innovative in her design process.
When and why did you first start creating jewellery and timepieces?
On graduating from Birmingham School of Jewellery in 1987, I started designing and creating items of jewellery almost immediately as I had the opportunity to set up a workshop at the then Cirencester Workshops. Much of my degree work had involved using a process called ‘cut card’ and combining textures with pops of colour. My original pieces from those days are still recognisable as old Louise Parry designs.
It is clear why you are a prestigious award winner; your designs are stunning, what inspires you?
I find inspiration from a wide range of sources such as artists like Kandinsky & Miro, the Bauhaus movement, classic car designs, architecture, nature, films such as Blade Runner & Metropolis, sometimes very unexpected places can produce a fantastic design idea and it is one of these that I am working on now.
As one of the leading designers in silversmithing and jewellery in the UK., does this mean you have to pay close attention to how you protect your IP rights? Do you take special steps to protect your IP?
When releasing new designs we are now more careful about the level of detail, and the audience on social media; we also register new designs with ACID. Although it is great to network with your contemporaries on social media, I now question whether it is an effective way to show my work to clients without the danger of ideas travelling very quickly around the world.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your IP has been infringed upon? If yes, how did you deal with it? What was the impact?
I have had several situations where although my designs have not been directly copied, the style and shapes of some of my designs have appeared in another jeweller’s new work which are then promoted as their own creations. This has increased my reluctance to promote my work on social media sites. Having your work copied can feel like having your house burgled. It can result in a huge emotional impact as developing new designs under your own brand can take years of work, research & development when it is then appropriated by another jeweller.
My naivety brought me problems many years ago when an American company met me showcasing a new collection at the JCK show in Las Vegas. They promised to purchase the new collection plus masses of promotion after taking all the promotional images and then set about replicating pieces using their own in-house design team. The range was the more commercial off shoot of an award-winning brooch design and had started to really help my income as I was a single parent with very small children then. It was difficult to do anything about it as social media and the internet weren’t as much of a thing in those days. That company no longer exists but I have never forgotten the feeling of hopelessness and violation.
Did you have any knowledge of intellectual property when you started your business?
No, it was only when I had developed my style and brand and exhibited at shows such Goldsmiths’ Fair and after receiving awards for my designs. As an established and recognised brand the more exposure you receive the more likely it is that competitors will try to emulate your designs.
Which ACID Membership services have you used and how have you benefited from being a member?
I have received legal advice and have also lodged several my designs with ACID. This gives me added security knowing that I have the ACID team for support. The filing system on ACID is extremely easy to use and helps to establish the habit of lodging my designs. I now lodge all my new designs and collections with ACID.
Have you brought anything new to the marketplace recently that you would like to share?
As well as moving into larger chiming wall clocks, I am about to release my smallest mechanical timepiece to date, and I have been developing a new range of jewellery and timepieces coherent with my brand. These designs are top secret at present but will be shared at a future date once completed.
Copying in design although devastating can act as a spur to do better and be more innovative.
What is the best aspect of ACID Membership for your business?
It is like having a burglar alarm on your house in that it gives greater peace of mind when releasing new design work. Having a high street shop I now ensure the ACID logo is visible in the window, on advertising leaflets and on any social media posts. This demonstrates to the wider world that I am serious about protecting my designs and will take action should this be compromised.
What advice would you offer to a new designer?
Develop your own unique selling point with your brand. Seek inspiration from a range of sources and in unlikely places. If you have the skill level aim to produce a product that technically will be difficult to copy. When using outworkers and employees collaborating with you on innovative new projects on research and development, consider getting them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Pinpoint unique aspects of your products that set you apart from competitors and back this up with vaulted files as soon as the work is completed. When you are running a successful business with a diary of tight deadlines it is easy to forget to do this admin, but really it should be as important as locking your car. Be aware that social media actively encourages other jewellers to be bombarded with images.
Running a bespoke commissioning service, very occasionally a new client will present me with an image of another designer’s work (usually on their phone) to copy and my first question to them is why, followed by a resounding refusal.
Although jewellery is an exceptionally large and competitive sector, it is vital that the industry support and respect each other to thrive. Plough your own furrow as a new designer from early on to avoid simply being mainstream. It is a hugely overpopulated sector and I have seen many jewellers not earn enough to make the business viable after 5 years and give up.
ACID values the support of its members to enable it to campaign for design law reform. Do you have any messages for Government/Policy Makers on IP issues? Do you think that copying of designs is deliberate and blatant?
Over the years many of my contemporaries have made me aware of blatant copying of their work by large companies and as an SME it can be really daunting to try and tackle a giant corporation. What is more difficult to identify is other jewellers being overly inspired by your brand style which are deliberate but disguised. It is important that the UK government recognises that we have a great deal of talented designers in this country, and it is vital that this is encouraged and protected. Increasing the availability of legal aid to enable SMEs to take legal action when their copyright has been infringed is vital.