The girl from Narrabri

Jenny Berich charts Jan Logan's rise from a rural beginning to award-winning jeweller to the stars.
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Jan Logan has no formal training in jewellery making but her name is synonymous with glamorous jewellery coveted by international stars like Naomi Watts, Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue.
 
“I have a keen eye for design. I find inspiration all around me – on the street, on film, in books and at trade fairs.”
 
Born in Narrabri, a small country town in the north-west of NSW, her love for jewellery, fashion and adornment began early but it was later in life that the Jan Logan dream began.
 
“From about three or four years of age I just lived in my imagination and played with my mother’s jewels,” she recalls. “I loved it.”
 
However despite her strong love for fashion and jewellery, Jan did not pursue a career in either industry when she left school. Instead she followed her parents’ advice and went to business college in Sydney after which she returned to Narrabri where she married and had three sons.
 
After the youngest son went to boarding school, she came across a job in the local newspaper.
 
“I saw an advertisement for a promotions officer for the Narrabri Chamber of Commerce and applied for it and was successful in getting it.
 
“That was my first big break as the Chamber president happened to be the town’s main jeweller and I spent a lot of time in his shop.
 
“I started playing with the jewellery and suggesting design ideas, and he ended up offering me a 20 per cent partnership so I took a personal loan and that was my serendipitous start in the jewellery business.”
 
“It was a tremendously exciting time,” she says. “I worked in the shop and got a good response to the design work I was doing and he allowed me more of a less a free reign to do whatever I wanted.
 
“I was also able to attend the jewellery buying trips in Sydney each year where I was able to meet other jewellers. I found it all very informative and stimulating.”
 
During her three years partnership at the Narrabri jewellery store, Jan also benefited from overseas travel opportunities.
“Travelling overseas was a fantastic opportunity to go window shopping to see what other jewellers were doing all over the world. When we went to London I would visit the antique markets and buy antique jewellery and then when we flew home via Japan and Hong Kong I would buy pearls and then when we got home I would combine them to create new jewellery pieces.
 
“When people saw what I was making I started being invited to do private exhibitions in country towns all over NSW and Queensland.”
 
“I received my first invitation to exhibit at the Moree Women’s Club and after that my reputation just spread by word-of-mouth.
 
“I would just get in the car with my jewellery and travel to the different towns.
 
“The exhibitions were an immediate success so I began to gradually phase out of the store business and just concentrate on my own independence.”
 
Jan moved to Sydney in the mid 1980s and opened a store in the Royal Arcade, Double Bay in 1989.
 
 

 
 
“I took the shop and I timed the opening with a local window dressing competition,” she says. Although Jan didn’t win the competition (she came second), she still garnered a lot of publicity and thus immediately attracted the attention of the well-heeled locals.
 
Exactly one year later Jan moved out of the Royal Arcade into a store on busy Cross Street.
 
“I wanted a street frontage,” she says.
 
Jan says the opening of her first store in Double Bay was the beginning of the Jan Logan brand.
 
 “I started getting attention from media as they liked what we were doing,” she says.
 
“We did a range of jewellery from good quality silver jewellery through to precious stones and antiques but right through this range was the signature of refinement and quality – so there was a consistency of purpose to our designs and the philosophy remains the same today.
 
“We just built on that over the years.”
 
“The feel of what we do is young and directional, but our pieces retain a classic quality that will stand the test of time. I love the permanence of jewellery. It is not a transient thing that you wear out then discard, though it can be fashionable and it can be altered to suit new ideas.”
 
In 1997 Jan’s youngest son Angus joining the business. Since then Jan and Angus have opened Jan Logan stores in Melbourne (1999), Hong Kong (2003) and Perth (this year) and have established a concession in David Jones Sydney city store and in the Jewellery Designers Room in Selfridges, London.
 
Jan says that at the moment they are happy to concentrate on the stores that they have, but future stores are not out of the question.   
 
Meanwhile her advice for aspiring jewellery designers is simple:
 
“It is important to communicate your ideas effectively,” she says.
 
“I would encourage someone fresh out of school to do a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a general design course. The most important ingredient in one’s success in their choice of career is to have an absolute passion and love for your chosen path”.
 
 

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