#TROYTRIBE - Annoushka Ducas MBE

Your career in jewellery design started in Hong Kong as you traveled there in your 20s, Tell us what initially inspired you to get into this world?  
I was and still am intoxicated by Hong Kong and its extraordinary energy; the craft and industry and the feeling that anything is possible. I have wonderful memories of weekends with my husband John discovering amazing people tucked away behind closed doors crafting wood, fabrics and ceramics - each craft steeped in history and tradition, it was truly inspiring. We lived in Hong Kong for 3 years and started the plans for our first business Links of London there – around – it’s a place I find very energising and exciting – there is something to be discovered behind every door. 


Your enormous success in founding Links of London and your beautiful brand Annoushka, led you to being awarded an MBE for services to the jewellery industry in 2013. What did this prestigious award mean for you?  

  It was a huge privilege to have been given the award – both John and I received the honour – and so we were lucky enough to enjoy the day with Johns’s parents, and all four children. This year I had the privilege of honouring her at RHS Chelsea Flower Show where I worked with florist Lucy Vail to design the Bullring Arch - the main entrance to the show, which she went under – the amazing floral arch was topped with three wicker crowns modeled on my Crown Rings, one of my signature designs and so fitting for the Platinum Jubilee. I launched a limited and numbered -edition collection in celebration of the jubilee, which includes a gorgeous Corgi charm – naturally, an 18ct yellow gold Corgi figure sits on a carnelian cushion. It was a fantastic project and something I am so honoured to have been part of.   

Working as a mother of four must have had it's challenges, but what a role model you are for them. How would you advise mothers who love their careers but also want to be there for their children?  

  I love being a mummy and have a great relationship with all four children – we love having them home and filling the house with their friends – we definitely learn from them and them from us. When children are young, obviously their needs are greater and that can be hard for working mums. I think it’s about finding a balance that works for your family – everyone is different, the balance will sometimes shift, and you will have to reevaluate. Between selling Links and starting Annoushka there were a few years where I tried to take on a stay at home mum role, but it was quite clear, quite quickly, that it was best for everyone if I went back to work! In 2022, post pandemic, I do think working parents are finding a new way of managing careers and kids – while I love having the team in the office, we are all used to a new kind relationship with work and that balance has to be the silver lining from Covid. Now, the kids help us to stay relevant and tell us when something is boring – it’s role reversal at times but seems to work as the world ever evolves.

You have also worked with your husband for many years. Do you have to have set rules in place to ensure you both are able to switch off?  

We don’t have set rules per se, we know and understand each other’s boundaries, perhaps this is how it works and has worked so well for us. I get asked the question time and time again, but I mean it when I say – I wouldn’t change a thing. If we don’t agree – we don’t do it – and that’s the end. Occasionally, I do find my way around a situation if I firmly believe I’m right. 

Your collections are so fresh and vibrant and bring fine jewellery into a more contemporary space. We love your bejewelled beetles and birds, and the beautiful charms to sparkle on bracelets and necklaces. What inspires you in your creative process today?  

I think jewellery should be liveable, not locked away for special occasions - that’s always been my approach - but when I started Annoushka in 2009, that was an Avante Gard perspective for fine jewellery. While my inspiration and ultimate design is always laced with something meaningful or playful, there’s a practicality too – this is jewellery for swimming, gardening – living – it's meant to make you smile and elevate your look, not be saved for best. It’s also crafted in solid gold which means it can take daily wear - and it gets better with age - developing a beautiful, warm patina.  

The most constant inspiration has always been nature – I am constantly in awe of its texture, pattern, colour and its total perfection.  I try to create pieces that are as close to the detail of the real thing as possible, whether it’s the tiny ants in my Beetle designs or the wobbly legs and head on Alphonse the Turtle. In other collections, I take a more abstract approach, like with the Garden Party collection, but there are always tiny and literal details which take the designs back to the real thing. For the first time, however, our AW collection has been inspired by a different place – something man-made – striking and geometric which to me, feels modern and fresh.

Embracing nature and the outdoors is key for us here at TROY and often the way we like to unwind. What is your favourite way to switch off from a busy stint in the office? 

Our family home is in East Sussex, a mile from the sea and at the foot of the South Downs, so we are very lucky to be surrounded by the great British countryside. It’s a big inspiration for me professionally but also a big part of our daily lives, we both ride and have two French Bulldogs – I’m also a keen gardener (I always said if I hadn’t been a jewellery designer, I would have loved to have been a florist) and our garden has been a labour of love for 25 years now – I absolutely love looking out of the window and seeing the seasons change – my absolute favourite moment is when the tulips arrive in Spring.   

Tell us about your favourite TROY design and what you enjoy about it. 

I visited the TROY pop-up at Chelsea Flower Show this year and loved trying on the collection – I nearly chose a navy-blue jacket which I also likes, but Rosie suggested I try the Khaki version, which is much more me. It is beautifully crafted – the attention to detail is exquisite and the subtle batik print gives it a twist on a classic. My day is usually back to back, so what I like about this jacket is its smart enough for a meeting in London, paired with a smart white T shirt and jeans, but at the end of the day, it’s relaxed enough for a drink at our local pub. It’s also extremely flattering, with a nipped in waist, which is always a good thing! I wore it at Glastonbury – and frankly, never took it off – it’s practical, chic and British made which I love.  


Your support of charities must be time consuming but hugely rewarding. Tell us about your key projects and how have you got on in this difficult year for fundraising?  

Whilst my mother died when I was 23, I feel so lucky to have had someone who inspired me and gave me the confidence I needed – and because of that – I feel it appropriate to support young people and emerging talent. A few years ago, I became a Patron of Women Supporting Women for The Princes Trust – a programme which was set up to readdress the balance between men and women coming through The Trusts programmes.  I visited Centres around the country and met women at various points along their journey with the Trust – some who had totally transformed their lives – others, who were new, who could barely look us in the eye. I felt compelled to do something to help these young people, to give them the confidence my Mother gave me - to believe they can achieve more. I wanted to fundraise, and I wanted it to be grassroots – not just another “charity fundraiser” and so in 2020, in the height of lockdown No 1 (not what we had planned!) we launched The Brilliant Breakfast. The idea is simple, get your friends, family or colleagues together over breakfast – it could be pastries and juice in the boardroom at work, or just a cup of tea and a croissant after the school run - whichever way, get a group together, put what you can in a pot and then encourage your guests to host their own – it’s completely non-threatening, anyone can do it, anywhere, and the effect is extremely powerful! In two years we have raised £1.17 Million – an amount which has helped over 800 women. This year I’m thrilled to say that Waitrose will be our headline partner - my ambition a decade from now, is that every house across the country will host their own Brilliant Breakfast and we will continue to raise millions of pounds year on year.

We see you have launched into bridal, what is next for you and the rest of 2022?

Unlike most designers, I have never designed engagement rings or wedding jewellery – and it was only when John and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, that I started thinking about how I would design my ring again, where I to get engaged now. Ironically, my engagement ring was the first piece of jewellery I designed, and it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be, but I do adore it and have never taken it off. That said.....were I designing it now, I would probably make it a bit bigger !!  - and I would make sure it had some versatility. This gave me an idea to design a collection of engagement rings, with accompanying "ring jackets” which fit around the central ring, meaning you can wear it alone, or elevate it, depending on your mood or the occasion. Naturally I had to test the idea and have made myself a rather lovely baguette diamond jacket, which feels like a worthy upgrade after 30 years and 4 children! After making a few for friends, we’ve now launched a Bespoke service where you can bring your existing ring and we’ll make you a jacket to fit around it – it’s like breathing new life into something precious. Bespoke is all about jewellery you can admire on yourself, as a woman - it's so important for women to feel confident.




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