How Melbourne jewellery label White November is challenging the fast-paced trend cycle

words by Eleanor Wilson
in partnership with white november

“I love that everything White November makes is fully recyclable and won’t be discarded in the next season.”

From celebrity endorsements and brand ambassadors, there’s no doubt marketing plays a large role in the relationship between brands and their consumer base. As a consumer myself, knowing the story and the people behind the businesses I’m putting my hard-earned coins into is admittedly a guilty pleasure of mine.

Be it their commitment to ethical processes, unique brand values, or ‘rags to riches’ stories, as corny as it may sound, it’s nice to know my garments come with a backstory. I know I can trust the ethical standards of Melbourne label Arnsdorf, and if I’m in need of a cosy handmade knit, mother-daughter owned New Zealand label Frisson Knits is a brand I’ll throw my money behind time and time again.  

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But despite my curiosity to delve into a brand’s identity, I find my interest slipping away when it comes to jewellery. I’m less clued in about the ethical processes involved in jewellery making, and while I know jewellery labels by name, I couldn’t tell you who Tiffany or Pandora actually are. 

But nothing exists without an exception, and local Melbourne jewellery label White November manages to execute its sustainable brand identity and philosophy with ease. Perhaps you’ve seen its celestial multi-gemmed BB signet rings or tapered baguette Stella diamond bands on Instagram. And if not, with collection names ranging from Earthly Galaxies to Astral Orbit, it’s not hard to envision White November’s otherworldly designs.

I spoke to founder and head designer Bianca to chat about White November’s beginnings, her design inspirations, and to learn more about its newest collection, Lunatopia, inspired by a ‘post-pandemic utopia’. Who doesn’t love the sound of that?

Hi Bianca, thanks for chatting. Can you tell us about how White November started? Why jewellery?

I started White November a little bit under 10 years ago after choosing jewellery as an elective whilst studying interior architecture at RMIT and never looking back. I’ve always been interested in art and art history and jewellery felt like it was a wearable form of art and sculpture. Once I decided to study jewellery full time I happened to land an amazing job working with a contemporary Melbourne jeweller, Insync Design.

Iris guided me and was my mentor in starting my own brand. I didn’t think it was something I was ready for at the time but she really helped me to start thinking about it sooner than I thought I would have. My first range was based on the floor plans of the Pantheon in Rome and I launched at The Big Design Market in Melbourne.  

Just by looking at your designs, there’s a common theme of astronomy within White November pieces. Where does this inspiration come from? 

I’ve always been fascinated by space and the night sky and the mythology the planets are named after. The wonder of the night sky is something that has inspired me to dream and create. I love visiting the Melbourne observatory and gazing at the stars light-years away. 

How has White November evolved from its beginnings? 

White November is definitely an evolutionary brand. We stay true to our codes and symbols but we try to reinterpret them in every piece we create. As well as astronomy we are inspired by art deco and a ’70s aesthetic. We love creating a modern version of all three ideas. In the beginning, I was very inspired by my mentor and used the same materials as her to start my range. 

From there I have drawn upon my life experiences and really learnt more about myself in the process. I have really been on a discovery journey over the past 10 years and while my style has evolved, I really feel comfortable and in love with where I am now and very happy with the White November brand aesthetic. I think branding and building a signature style is so important and I have made that a central part of my business. 

Tell us a bit about your brand name. Why ‘White November’?

My name Bianca means White in Italian and I share a birthday with my super creative sister in November so it just felt right.

Along with a number of original collections, you also design bespoke pieces. What is that process like for you?

I love creating bespoke pieces. We love closely working with our clients to create meaningful future heirlooms. Sourcing the perfect gemstone that will be treasured for a lifetime is something that we adore. We always design within our aesthetic and love creating new pieces.

Finding ways to imbue meaning in the jewellery is a little challenge that we are obsessed with. We also can reuse our clients’ gemstones and precious metals which adds another layer of sentimentality. The finished piece always delights us and is special to each client. 

Ethics is something consumers are considering more and more when investing in new brands, but the ethics surrounding jewellery are not as widely understood. Could you tell me a bit about the ethical processes you have implemented into your own jewellery business, and why it’s important to you?

With our holistic approach to jewellery design, caring for the environment is a core element of the design process and implemented through our zero wastage systems. By breathing new life into once beloved pieces, metals can be melted down and transformed into a re-imagined design and a touching new meaning.

We only purchase stones from the most reputable and well-known suppliers. In October 2019, we visited the mine where we purchase most of our sapphires from. This was a great experience to see first-hand the ethical practices the small family business employs. 

It is on our mind that the stones are mined from the earth, however, the miners we purchase our stones from are very conscious and aware of the earth and their impact and do their best to minimise their footprint. We also sell lab-grown gems for our clients who are interested in a more sustainable gemstone.

For many years, I designed jewellery for some of Australia’s most loved brands, with this fast-paced nature of mass-produced, trend-based jewellery that is often forgotten by next season, I began to feel as though something was missing. I love that everything White November makes is fully recyclable and won’t be discarded in the next season.

You just released a brand-new collection, Lunatopia, congratulations! What’s different about this collection and where did the inspiration come from?

Lunatopia is our second fine jewellery collection. In 2019 I visited an exhibition in Paris of the moon landing in 1969. The first half of the exhibition was full of historical images and stories and the second half was all pieces of art, sculpture and design which included or referenced the moon.

Fast forward to 2021 in lockdown in Melbourne I watched a documentary on Woodstock which was also in 1969. I started to research this pivotal year and was inspired by the glittering icons and the revolutionary events of 1969. 

This collection is curated to capture the same sense of freedom and endless possibilities of the 1960s, as we enthusiastically step into what will be our new modern world. Created in our Melbourne studio through the enduring quarantine, we dreamed of a post-pandemic utopia to envisage this range.

Finding inspiration in the idealistic spirit of the Children of the Revolution sparked the creativity and the vision of hope to persevere through these challenging times. We celebrate individuality, not fast fashion. Each piece within our range is sustainably handcrafted, using ethically mined gemstones and a zero-waste approach.

What are your hopes and goals for White November in 2022?

I’m starting a menswear jewellery label with my husband, called Deloun – it will have the essence of White November but with a slightly different direction. We will also be travelling to Sydney for a trunk show so we can meet all our beautiful clients in NSW. We are always looking out for inspiration too, for our third range to be released next October. 

To shop White November’s latest collection, Lunatopia, head here

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