I have a crush on London. Its blend of old world, European history and romanticism, and quirky British-isms juxtaposed with its perpetual moodiness make it seem like a fantastical riddle just begging to be solved. The delights of the city aside, in the world of jewelry, or should I say jewellery as the Brits do, London is on fire. All week I’ll be exploring what makes British jewelry so special, starting with the support and community that surrounds the jewelry industry in London.
The Leopards, a group of London based jewelry professionals founded in 2016 by Solange Azagury-Partridge, Shaun Leane, Susan Farmer, Theo Fennell, Stephen Webster and Carol Woolton, just hosted their inaugural Leopard Awards on Nov 15 as a celebration of jewelry and its role in fashion, the arts and culture, as well as those who wear and create it. The event is a partnership with the Prince’s Trust, which for those non-Brits is an organization founded by Prince Charles to help young people in the UK transform their lives.
In addition to the gala evening, the Leopards chose four young jewelers, Louis Browning, Katherine Anderson, Mollie Rose Hemming and Hannah Jackson, to be part of a mentorship program for designers under 30 in order to help them nurture their businesses and perpetuate the magic of the craft among the next generation. The Leopards will sell the winning pieces in their stores, with proceeds going to the Prince’s Trust.
The Leopards, who take their name from the Leopard hallmark that has been used to mark gold and silver pieces produced in London since 1363, are a prestigious group of jewelers and experts whose work has set the benchmark for the fantastically whimsical, yet still beautifully traditional nature of British jewelry.
Their influence hasn’t been lost on the latest cohort of London-based designers, and there are many notables right now. To name just a few, Noor Fares, Fernando Jorge, Sabine Getty, Eugenie Niarchos at Venyx, Maria Black and Anna Jewsbury at Completedworks, Anissa Kermiche and Rosh Mahtani at Alighieri are all London-based designers doing inventive and captivating work. Interestingly enough, the majority of this group is not British-born, but it says a lot that each designer chose London as the foundation to launch their jewelry brands.
The jewelry talent out of London might also have something to do with the British Fashion Council’s Rock Vault initiative to “support, showcase and promote Britain’s most innovative jewelry talent.” Each year, a group of talented young jewelry designers is selected by Stephen Webster to receive business mentorship and a space to show at London Fashion Week. Fernando Jorge and Completedworks have both been participants.
And finally, London’s retail, editorial and museum scenes are in a total embrace of its jewelry talent. On the Rocks, a London-based magazine, is dedicated to showcasing jewelry, while retailers like Liberty London, Selfridges, Alex Eagle Studio and Dover Street Market have unique and inspired selections of jewelry. I also love everything that Matchesfashion.com does, especially their jewelry editorials.
And of course, there’s the V&A Museum’s extensive collection of jewelry which consists of over 3,000 pieces, from ancient civilization to modern day. And one can’t mention jewelry in London without acknowledging Hatton Garden, the heart and history of London’s jewelry trade. But that’s an article for another time.
Needless to say this is just a brief overview of the many intriguing things happening in London in the jewelry world. I hope it has piqued your interest.