Get to Know Ashley Gilroy of J/Hadley

Through a series of serendipitous circumstances, New York City-based designer Ashley Gilroy of J/Hadley traded a journalism career for one in fine jewelry.

Ashley Gilroy of J/Hadley

Jewelry designer Ashley Gilroy of J/Hadley

Headquarters: New York City

Year firm launched: 2010

Signature style: “J/Hadley Jewelry relies on the elements in nature and combines them with what the modern woman wants in her jewelry: flexibility and one-of-a-kind beauty. Signature elements include diamond pavé on earring backs and on lobster clasps, as well as hinged components for ease of wear and very clear gemstones.”

Training, education, and design process: “After I graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a journalism degree, I rewarded myself with a trip around the world—my own version of Eat, Pray, Love! My last stop was in India.

“I walked into a small jewelry shop in a high-end mall in Mumbai, and the beauty of the handcrafted offerings inside—which catered to the Bollywood movie crowd—stopped me in my tracks. I only was there for 48 hours, but bought some gifts, and when I returned home, friends and family loved the pieces and wanted more. So I went back to India shortly thereafter, and convinced family who owned the shop—the Jain family, who has been in the business for over 30 years—to give me a selection of jewels to sell back home. I did, and then ended up apprenticing with them, sitting at the bench, and learning designing and sales. I learned all I know from the family’s son, and now consider his family a part of my own. I was even in his wedding last year! To date, I’ve been to India about 15 times.

“Right now, I create 30 percent of the jewelry myself in my studio in New York City, and 70 percent is made in India. I also make two trips to India a year to visit my factories and go over quality control and work on new designs. Before each visit, I have stones sourced from all over the world so that when I get to India, I can view each stone and hand pick which ones will be used in our designs. This is my favorite part of what I do! For the rest of the year, I rely on my trend boards to create sketches for the up and coming seasons.

“My company name is a tribute to the Jain family in India, my father’s side of the family—James is a family name—and Hadley is a throwback to my mother’s side of the family, who grew up on Hadley Street in a small town outside of Nashville, Tenn. There, hard work, family values, and a love for life a higher power were taught and lived.”

Materials of choice: “I work in 14k and 18k yellow and white gold, as well as rhodium. I prefer to use both rhodium and gold in each piece—this is a technique I use to keep the price point down for retailers. In this economy, it’s much appreciated by clients and retailers!

“I work with a variety of stones including pavé diamonds, opals, rubies, green onyx, turquoise, and moonstone. I am extremely excited to be using bright colors for the fall-winter 2012 season, as these are the ones that will grab attention this year.

“While we do not produce all of our own findings and components, we love incorporating the best elements from all around the world, such as Italian-made chains, miniature bamboo paintings encased in crystal as pendants from Thailand, and diamond clasps from Turkey. The line is currently half cast and half fabricated.”

Starting retail price: “Our starting point for small 14k gold and pavé diamond pendants is $175.”

Retailer buy-in: “While we treat each retailer on a case-by-case basis, choosing a program that will work best for each store, our minimum buy-in is 10 pieces. A lot of times, we’ll match the value of orders with pieces on consignment.”

Accounts: “J/Hadley is currently sold in 15 accounts nationwide, including Elyse Walker in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Ikram in Chicago, and FIVESTORY in New York City. While we do not currently have an official international account, we work closely with many private clients internationally—including members of the Saudi Arabian royal family.”

Jewelry trade show exhibits: “None yet.”