Libby Rak Gallery of Jewellery is Woodstock’s only jewellery store, and attracts customers from far and wide, attracted by stylish designs and super sparkles. It’s the jewel in the crown of Woodstock’s creative and entrepreneurial community and is a showcase for the best in British design and craftsmanship.
Libby sells a mix of high-end pieces, including exquisite engagement rings, through to more accessibly priced pieces perfect for gifts (or gifts to self). Her signature styles include the Bluebell Pendant Necklace, inspired by walks in the local bluebell woods in Spring (which retail at £155) and chunky cocktail rings with dramatic gemstones (which start at £380).
Libby has achieved a lot at a young age, including winning awards such Muddy Stilettos Best Jewellery Store, Retail Jewellers 30 Under 30 Award, and being featured in Vogue. Libby started her glittering career working as a teenager in the Julia Beusch Gallery of Contemporary Jewellery. It was there that Libby began to learn about gemstones; Julia would teach her to choose the most special one from a group that to the untrained eye looked similar. This sparked her passion for gemstones, and today she loves the process of picking the most special gems from the ones that her suppliers share with her.
She intended to become an engineer, until she realised that she wanted to use her practical design skills to create objects of beauty, and jewellery making became her passion. She then studied at the British Academy of Jewellery in Hatton Garden, and when the shop space in Woodstock became available, Libby jumped at the chance to create a pop-up shop, at just 20 years old. The store opened as a permanent fixture in September 2017, and three years on is at the heart of Woodstock’s thriving retail scene.
The store itself sits on the main road that runs through Woodstock, nestled between The Woodstock Bookshop and The Cotswold Tailor. Currently, Libby is operating an appointments system, but feel free to pop by and ring the doorbell on the off chance. Libby welcomes her customers looking suitably stylish in a leopard print mask and asking customers to use Cowshed hand sanitiser. The store is spacious and what makes it really special is that Libby’s workshop is visible, giving you an insight into the creation process. Libby describes herself as a ‘maker’ so instead of drawing designs, she creates in the moment, blue-tacking gems onto ring bands for example, to give you a real sense of what she’s thinking of creating for you, if you’re lucky enough to be getting a bespoke creation.
As well as her selection of pre-made pieces, she’s happy to create bespoke designs. She loves to remodel jewellery, creating modern designs from old family heirlooms. Some customers feel guilty that they’re not wearing the grandmother’s engagement ring that they’ve inherited as it’s just not their style, but Libby’s advice is that it’s better to have things remodelled. “People feel bad about it but I always say they’ve given that to you so you can wear it.” Libby loves this process, as it has such sentimentality, and the stories of loved ones and family history creates a real emotional connection between her and her customers. “Most jewellers don’t like to remodel as there’s not much money to made, but I absolutely love doing it…I can’t say no!”
Emotion is something always present in her store. Libby says she loves to make “sparkly things that make people happy” and that “crying with happiness is always a good sign, you just see it on their face when a customer is delighted.”
Of-course engagement rings come with them a whole host of secrets and excitement. Libby recalls being asked by a female customer (and a friend): “I’m going on holiday and I want to propose, help me choose a ring”, and then the very next day the other half of the couple asking her exactly the same thing! Libby is a very good secret keeper, as well as jeweller!
Libby had planned to be exhibiting at The Jewellery Cut Live, in London’s Mayfair, on 11th & 12th of October, which unfortunately has had to be cancelled. She’s now looking forward to revealing her new collection in Woodstock, which promises to be “full of lots of new exciting pieces, lots of cocktail rings, and lots of diamonds!” and will be back exhibiting during London Fashion week next year.
Libby’s perfect customer is “someone who’s open to something a little bit different, who can trust my imagination.” Of-course, everyone is welcome, conservative or brave. Whatever you’re looking for, you can trust that everything is made from responsibly sourced gemstones, recycled metal features heavily, and you’ll be buying something that’s made to last.
25 Oxford St, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX201TH