As a child, my grandmother's costume jewellery box always enticed me. Still lingering with the scent of heady Chanel No.5, I’d carefully open the box to find pearls and gemstones, shimmering back up at me. These were jewels I was allowed to play with. I’d drape strings of plastic beads around my neck, hang jangling metallic bangles around my wrists and clip on oversized earrings that covered the whole of my tiny lobes.

The magic inside my grandmother’s jewellery box still stays with me today, and it was a similar enchantment that got vintage jewellery fanatic and founder of 4element, Monika Wojtal, into the business of jewels. A vintage aquamarine gemstone ring that her grandparents gifted her in her early 20s, ignited Monika’s love for statement jewellery and since then she has developed a successful company catering to the needs of fellow jewellery enthusiasts with her proposed “jewellery wardrobes”.

From Coco Chanel’s cascading black bead necklace (fit with interlocking Cs) and Yves Saint Laurent’s crystal flower power set to Miu Miu’s diamante embellished bow earrings, Monika’s vintage jewellery rental platform offers unique and limited edition designer accessories to fashion magazines, stylists and jewellery lovers alike.

Because caught up with Monika to discover more…

Tell us a bit more about 4element…
At 4element, we are passionate about preserving unique creations but also celebrating and sharing our one-of-a-kind collection with other jewellery lovers. I have been collecting vintage designer jewellery for many years and it’s been a truly wonderful experience, but seeing other women enjoy the jewellery I have found, restored and renovated is the best part. New jewellery arrives almost every week, our inventory is constantly expanding as we do not sell our pieces. For us it’s all about sharing.

What inspired you to start 4element, and how did you get started in the vintage jewellery business?
I used to work as a political journalist, so professionally I was far from fashion. But my work was all about storytelling: researching and delivering great stories. As we all know, vintage is centred around its story.

On a more personal side, I was very close with my grandma. An exceptional lady with a great character and style. She divided her time between post-war Warsaw and glamorous Paris, which reflected her style. She loved fashion: sharp, strong silhouettes, sturdy leather and jewellery to a great extent. She also happened to be the best friend of one of the biggest polish singers, Violetta Villas. I was extremely lucky to spend my childhood surrounded by these incredibly chic ladies.

My teenage years were devoted to dancing, I trained countless hours and participated in national and international dance competitions in both ballroom and latin dance. My outfits very often featured thousands of rhinestones, feathers and sequins. Outfit details were everything to me. The older I became, the more I started to notice that everyday wear was missing these spotlighting elements, ladies were opting for basic outfits which could blend with others. But I believe jewellery has the power to transform each outfit. So 4element was born.

What makes 4element's jewellery unique, and what sets it apart from other vintage jewellery companies?
We have two types of customers, online jewellery lovers, from around the world who need unique jewellery for special occasions, and the fashion industry. We work with some of the best stylists and magazines in the world, on both sides of the Atlantic. We exchange ideas, mood boards, and often suggest jewellery pieces which have just arrived and are worth the fashion industry’s attention. We are a bridge to both the fashion industry and the regular customer as both share the same dedication to jewellery as we do. It’s important to understand that 4element is not only about jewellery, but it's also about the experience. Most importantly, our uniqueness and our strength lies in our collection of one-of-a-kind pieces that are impossible to replace.

Can you tell us about the process of sourcing vintage jewellery for 4element, and what factors you consider when selecting pieces to rent?
While hunting for pieces I remember that my style may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I try to build a very diverse and versatile collection. When I think about the 4element customer, there is no age range, gender or style preferences. I look for beautifully-made pieces by artisan hands that are often statement items. We are able to repair many jewels, still preserving their authenticity. I travel a lot, I check hundreds of vintage stores, I search online, and I contact individuals. I’m a jewellery hunter.

How do you ensure the authenticity and quality of the vintage jewellery you rent, and what steps do you take to restore and/or repair pieces when necessary?
We have a great team who take care of our vintage jewellery. There are lots of jewellers who do not spend their time on costume jewellery, as they perceive these pieces as less valuable and prefer to focus on precious stones. For us, vintage costume jewellery is an art, a reflection of the past, made by extraordinary talents. We study designer collections, we check weights, clasps, and stamps, and we restore and repair. I want to preserve these pieces for all of us.

Do you have a favourite piece in the 4element collection?
I have a couple of items that I simply adore. I am very much a Galliano girl so his creations are the apple of my eye. I was raised on Grimm's tales therefore I’m very much into powerful, sharp, dark, heft pieces that grab attention and are not obvious. But if you ask for one very special piece from the 4element collection, it would have to be the vintage Dior haute couture runway logo choker. This piece is extraordinary, made with fine china featuring a gold-plated old Christian Dior logo. It’s the cherry on the top for any museum exhibition and the only existing piece that I found in America.

What has been your biggest achievement with 4element so far, and what goals do you have for the future of the company?
Transforming my passion into my business. Seeing 4element jewellery highlighted by the amazing editorials, worn at the Oscars, featured in great music videos and at the same time worn by our customers around the UK is a dream come true. My customers are also mostly returning customers, and there is something special about that

Can you tell us about any exciting new projects or collaborations that 4element has in the works?
We have just recently launched a vintage Valentino collection, featuring exquisite jewellery made by Mr Valentino Garavani himself. We will soon be welcoming vintage Gucci jewellery to the 4element family, Dolce vita pieces from the Paolo Gucci era. And we have also decided to introduce a vintage belt section, beautiful statement pieces ranging from Christian Lacroix to Yves Saint Laurent to Christian Dior. From chunky leather or colourful stones to chain pieces, I have built a very unique vintage belt collection and can’t wait to share it with our customers

Rent your own jewellery now from

Team Credits: 
Photographer: Naomi Ngoo Richmond
Styling: Eve Bailey
Fashion Assistant: Emily Whitehurst
Model: Demi at Phoenix Model Management 
Text: Augustine Hammond