After a year’s work, my Jewellery for Gentlemen book is finished bar the choice of cover design. What I long to do is go straight to where my heart is warmest – Son Bou beach on the island of Menorca – but that’ll have to wait until publication next year.
Though the next Thames & Hudson contract is due for the Henry Poole book priority number one is the launch of Jewellery for Gentlemen Ltd at The Wedding Gallery. The business loan from Virgin Startup was approved on Friday last and the first collection is bought and ready for the press preview next week.
The idea for Jewellery for Gentlemen is simple: reconsidering antique jewellery for contemporary men. The first collection is my edit of exquisite men’s jewellery but I can see the opportunities to re-set and reimagine pieces for a modern audience. The coming weeks will be spent designing the website, social media and visual merchandising.
Writing is and always has been a vocation to me. It has also on occasion been a very hard taskmaster. Faced with a blank page, you have to create something from nothing on a daily basis. Having the opportunity to handle and photograph masterpieces made by Fabergé, Boucheron, Van Cleef, Verdura and Cartier to name a few for my book made me wonder whether I could make a profitable living selling rather than styling for publication.
Jewellery for Gentlemen did have an auspicious start when I took a sapphire ring I’d bought in Paris to the gem testers on Bond Street. It was sold to me as a First Empire piece which was borne out in the Napoleonic yellow gold foliate design of the setting. Turns out the stone is an untreated colour-change Burma sapphire.
Researching a romp through jewellery history I found it extraordinary how particular treasures oscillate between the sexes. There’s a magnificent portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh in the NPG with the buccaneer sporting a magnificent teardrop pearl in his ear and a cloak embroidered with a sunburst motif of pearls.
As we know, even Queen Elizabeth I wore imitation pearls made from fish scales but the Sir Walter’s earring is evidently rare and real. You will not find a portrait of King Charles I without him wearing a similar pearl drop earring owned since he was the fifteen-year old Prince of Wales. It was taken from his dead head when he was executed in 1649.
You know where I’m going here, darling. Why not the boy in the pearl earring? Messes Beckham, Hamilton, Ronaldo and Will Smith made emerald-cut diamond earrings fashionable in the 1990s and now every fly black guy in London rocks diamonds or Zirconia in their lobes.
I like multi-purpose jewellery such as an antique rose gold fob watch chain worn as a bracelet or necklace and stickpins taking pride of place in lapels. The underlying mission for Jewellery for Gentlemen is to re-introduce the tie stud into a guy’s formal or cocktail wardrobe. I am at the research stage of producing natural pearl tie studs.
I’ve never had anything pierced but do love my friend Shaun Leane’s pavé diamond claw ear studs. This got me thinking that if a tie stud were made with an 18ct yellow gold spike, the jewel could be worn in the lobe … or anywhere else a chap might be pierced.
Men’s ear studs are rather a bore as is: hoops, metal studs or (yawn) skulls. I rather like the idea of a black diamond stud or perhaps a black pearl.I was brought up to believe tattoos and piercings were as common as chewing gum and giving a camp squeal when a champagne cork pops. A solitaire ruby might change my mind.
Speaking of champagne corks popping and gun salutes, my birthday falls on the evening of Nights at the Museum and I have booked 9pm tickets for Lee and I to tour the Palace of Westminster, have drinks on the terrace then late night sups it being both our birthday week.
La Farmer and Mr Bowering are treating Judith and I to an evening of Noël Coward cabaret at Brasserie Zedel and dinner on Halloween night. I’m tempted to dig out my turban and the odd chiffon scarf and go as Madame Arcati.
I would much rather come to the cabaret than engage with Halloween night in London. In fact I’d rather be forced to watch back-to-back episodes of Celebrity Juice than celebrate Halloween. Lord only knows how Halloween has become such an occasion in the UK. There’s enough satanic hoodoo in the world without encouraging the nation’s youth to dress as Freddie Kruger.
So what do I wish when I blow out the candles? I’m glad you asked. I don’t want an easy life – good job! – but I would like a year of hard work on Jewellery for Gentlemen paying off. Simple as that. For once I would like to chance my taste and work ethic selling precious stones and metal as well as words on a page.
If I had another wish it would be to care less. But I don’t and I do. I have always taken my work extremely personally. This is a blessing and a curse. But it is what it is. Hopefully in the coming year business will also be a pleasure. Until next time…