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A trip down memory lane… courtesy of a research assignment

A long, long time ago

I was on the market for a ring, a special ring – of the engagement variety – for my partner Ben. Apparently, I had taken his casual mention of women being allowed to propose to men on a leap year way too seriously…

I had had my eye on a beautiful silver band I had seen at the Coolstore in Mapua for quite some time. One short Google search later, I had the jeweller’s name: Ash Hilton. I got in touch, found out he was based in Nelson and went to visit him at his studio.

I was hell-bent on buying one of his stock rings, after all, I was doing this as a bit of an in-joke. Then Ash asked me how I met Ben, where we travelled together and, before long, he had distilled our story into one image: the viewing platform where Ben and I shared our first sandwich.*

The back of Ben's ring featuring Ships Creek's  viewing platform
The platform design
(apologies to Ash for the state of his amazing ring! It needs a bit of TLC)

To me, that is Ash Hilton Jewellery in a nutshell. Ash does not make jewellery, he creates time capsules for the moments we treasure.

Finding a niche and telling the world about it

No shiny website or Instagram account could mimic that kind of connection, but it all helps, especially when a business wants to go global – and global it did go. Quite a few times now, I have found myself spotting Ash Hilton wedding bands on the ring fingers of overseas visitors. When asked about how they came across his jewellery and what the design meant to them, they all tell a beautiful story of connection, creativity and special memories.

Personally, I think that Ash Hilton Jewellery has made it. The brand and the designs are unique and recognisable. The products have morphed from objects into a personal experience. Word of mouth (both literal and digital) has spread far and wide, and the sizeable Pinterest following is there to prove it. After all, Pinterest is the place where organised brides-to-be go to browse.

My Ash Hilton engagement ring
This is my Ash Hilton right
Ben and I told Ash a bit more about our early days as a couple and
this is the beautiful design that came from our chat

All the bells and whistles

Powered by a clean, slick, easy to use website that oozes personality and also happens to be a highly functional Shopify point of sale, the brand is boosted by beautifully minimalist photography and unified messaging that is shared across various social media platforms. In fact, the team behind the brand has done such a good job that Radio NZ and other major media outlets have spotted the talent and featured their success story.

But does all this “marketing stuff” really work?

The team’s ability to connect with their target audience, and include them in the design process, converts potential clients into returning customers who choose the brand again and again for its ethos and that personal touch.

So would I buy another Ash Hilton piece? Yes!

Would I fall for Ben’s tricks again, get up at 6am and drop to one knee on Tahuna beach while our dog runs off into the sunrise? The jury is still out on that one.

*I would like to state that the moment of cheesiness shared above was an isolated episode of romanticism. The dog disappearing in the distance and Ben’s uncontrollable fits of laughter cured me of that pretty quickly.

Cod etched into a ring by Ash Hilton
If the laughter had not killed all the romance already, Ben decided he wanted my ring to have a cod on it (apparently that is the international symbol for the Marlborough Sounds). Ash warned us that he’d only ever etched a cod on wrist bands, but he worked his magic and voila! Seven years on, I still love the little scaly guy.

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