‘The Pearl Necklace’ published by Maison Assouline in collaboration with Mikimoto

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In The Pearl Necklace, the latest coffee table tome from French art house publishers Maison Assouline, the history of pearls and, of course, the pearl necklace is traced through the story of Japanese pearl specialists, Mikimoto.

Award winning journalist and jewellery historian Vivienne Becker has penned the forward, in which she reminds us why these rare sea treasures have long been the ultimate object of power, beauty and legend. And, numbering 300 pages, this coveted hardback, is also the most authoritative volume on the subject of pearls to date.

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Of course, nature’s precious white orbs remain very much in vogue. On the autumn/winter 2016 runways, Chanel, Gucci and Rag & Bone, to name but a few, accessorised looks with layers of pearl strands, single pearl earrings and lavish pearl headpieces. It just goes to show how far pearls have come since their regal image.

The book looks back at the history of Mikimoto and features stunning photos and illustrations from its archives. The cover shot, meanwhile, features strands of Mikimoto pearls draped on a model’s naked back. The brand’s founder, Kokichi Mikimoto, was the first to successfully culture a semi-spherical pearl in 1893. The method in which a tiny bead made of polished shell and a piece of mantle tissue is introduced by hand was so radical it even amazed the legendary inventor, Thomas Edison.

 

Indeed, Mikimoto’s development of cultured pearls in the late 19th Century put Japanese jewellery on the map. He devoted his entire life to these precious gems, having always held the dream ‘to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls.”

And if there’s anything that links some of the world’s most famous women – from Her Majesty The Queen to Jacqueline Onassis, Grace Kelly and Michelle Obama – it has to be their pearls. The Pearl Necklace features rare portrait shots of some of the most celebrated pearl aficionados. We guarantee you’ll be digging out those pearly white heirlooms after reading it.

 

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The Pearl Necklace is available to purchase at ASSOULINE boutiques worldwide and through http://www.assouline.com

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Trunk Call – The Berkeley’s New Complimentary Vintage Fashion Service

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This month at the Berkeley, Knightsbridge, suite guests can enjoy rooting through a one-of-a-kind fashion trunk exclusively curated by digital vintage fashion boutique Vestiaire Collective.

Room service is pretty much the same the world over, but have you ever rung down for a pair of vintage Christian Dior earrings with your Earl Grey? At the Berkeley however, one call to the concierge is all it takes and a fashion trunk will be delivered straight to your suite full of rare vintage accessories to try on and borrow free of charge.

Fanny Moizant, co-founder of Vestiaire Collective the luxury resale site that sells pre-loved pieces to new owners, is responsible for curating the trunk’s coveted contents. Its drawers contain some of the most sought-after accessories spanning from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. These include a Chanel silk satin evening bag from the early 1980’s, a pair of Christian Dior earrings from 1985 and a Hermes lizard skin bracelet from the early 1990’s. If I had to choose though, I would probably pick the Celine necklace from the latter part of the 1990’s or the beautiful Yves Saint Laurent scarf from the same era.  It’s a tough call. So how did Moizant make her edit?

“We wanted to offer a good mix of designers and products for guests to play with,” says Moizant who spends her time between London and her native Paris. “I looked at our vintage catalogue and picked pieces that we imagined guests would want access to whilst travelling. Every item is a statement piece that will help elevate any look.”

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Meanwhile, the stunning bespoke trunk is handcrafted in England by Norton MacCullough & Locke. There are eleven drawers of various sizes, an engraved mirror and a suede-lined tray on which the accessories of choice can be taken to the dressing table. Guests staying at the Berkeley’s new suites; the Chelsea, Berkeley and Terrace, can also purchase their picks upon check out. Alternatively, should they wish to explore Vestiaire Collective further, the digital boutique has an array of vintage pieces on offer to buy online from the comfort of their suite.

I’m curious to know though, in terms of buying vintage fashion, are there any particular pieces or decades I should be investing in now?

“The 1980’s and the 1990’s are having a strong moment right now due to the renewed popularity of looks on the international runways”, says Moizant. As for accessories she adds: “A classic watch such as a man’s Daytona Rolex or a mini Baignoire Cartier are a shrewd investment. The Cartier Love bracelet is another item that is also very popular at the moment. As for handbags, you can’t go wrong with a classic Hermes Kelly bag or a Chanel bag. Louis Vuitton luggage – a monogrammed Monceau or a Speedy Keepall – also have good longevity.”

 

Meanwhile, back at the Berkeley, where better to wear your pick from the vintage trunk than at its newly relaunched Blue Bar. Created by the late David Collins, this much-loved watering hole opened its doors again last month after a six-month restoration project undertaken by one of Collins’ former design protégés Robert Angell. As the lighting dims for evening cocktails flaunt that Saint Laurent chain strap bag – even if it’s yours just for one night!

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The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge

Vestiaire Collective vestiairecollective.com

Diamond Geezer – The Q&A with Mappin & Webb’s Brian Duffy

 

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Mappin & Webb’s First Brand Ambassador, Gabriella Wilde

Brian Duffy, CEO of Arum Holdings, certainly has his work cut out for him. Arum Holdings is the company behind Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland and the Goldsmiths jewellery chain. It is also the largest distributor in the world of luxury watch brands including Omega, Tag Heuer and Gucci and is the UK’s largest distributor for Rolex, Cartier and Breitling.

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As far as Mappin & Webb is concerned, this year marks the 241st anniversary of the British silversmith whose story began in 1775, when Jonathan Mappin opened a silver workshop in Sheffield. Mappin’s intention to create the most beautifully crafted silverware for British high society was quickly fulfilled. This bold first step would see the company expand internationally, receive Royal Warrants and commissions from monarchs around the world and become synonymous with excellence, craftsmanship and all things truly British.

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Today, the British jeweller has been scoring hits with elegant pieces of fine jewellery under the creative direction of Elizabeth Galton. And while Mappin & Webb’s Old Bond Street store continues to draw jewellery connoisseurs from across the globe, in recent weeks, the brand has unveiled its newly revamped Regent Street store with all the pomp and ceremony you would expect of this Royal favourite. In other news, this grande dame of the British jewellery scene has also appointed its first brand ambassador in the shape of British model-turned actress, Gabriella Wilde. And, as it celebrates over two centuries in business, we quiz Duffy on Mappin & Webb’s past, present and future in the Q&A below:

Bond Street News: Tell us about the Regent Street store changes? 

Brian Duffy: It looks like a new boutique but it is actually a renovation of a boutique where we have been for 10 years.  Mappin & Webb has been in Regent Street for over 100 years.  Regent Street is now finally realising its potential as a major retail destination. The Mappin & Webb flagship boutique at 132 Regent Street perfectly represents the feel and taste of our 241-year heritage and is a perfect match with the John Nash architecture.

BSN: How has the aesthetic of Mappin & Webb’s collections evolved under Elizabeth Galton’s creative direction?

BD: Elizabeth and her team take their inspiration from the wonderful Mappin & Webb archives. The archives are perfectly preserved and now digitally recorded. Elizabeth’s interpretation is thoughtful and sensitive.  Our collections today are consistent in both the aesthetic and quality and the Mappin & Webb handwriting is evident to the consumer.

BSN: Are there any specific areas within the brand offering currently undergoing a refresh in order to attract more fashion-led customers? 

BD: Overall, we have more than doubled our jewellery collections. We have expanded significantly our offer of bridal; introduced a gorgeous range of coloured gems – ‘The Carrington Collection’; and expanded our silver jewellery. We have also launched our watch collections for men and women with prices ranging from £800-£2,500.  This includes our ‘A Campaign collection’, based on the watch that Mappin & Webb supplied to troops in World War 1 and the Boer War.

BSN: How well is the bespoke side of the business doing?

BD: Bespoke is a major focus for our re-launch. We have introduced ‘Mappin & Webb by Appointment’ whereby the consumer can build their personal choice of engagement and eternity rings with a range of coloured gems or diamond – all designed in our London workshop.

BSN: How important is it to keep British silversmith traditions alive by producing the Mappin & Webb collections at home?

BD: It is important to keep crafts and skills in Britain. We have expanded our London workshop and we are also actively supporting the ‘QEST’ (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) Programme. ‘QEST’ was established to help support craftspeople of all ages and from all backgrounds, at a critical stage in their careers and thus sustain traditional British craftsmanship. Her Majesty The Queen became patron of ‘QEST’ this year.

BSN:  What is the secret to Mappin & Webb’s success and what does it hope to achieve in the years ahead?

BD: Ten generations have worked for Mappin & Webb so the secret is the people.  Mappin & Webb has great employees who are proud and loyal to the brand.  A good example is Victor Bailey who retired recently after 56 years.  He started as a teenager and eventually become our Royal Warrant holder for more than 40 years.

www.mappinandwebb.com

 

 

Bond’s Best

‘I Promise to Love You’ – 18ct Yellow Gold Ring by Tracey Emin for Stephen Webster

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Stephen Webster’s latest fine jewellery offering celebrates Tracey Emin’s signature neon works, as well as her intricate bird and animal sketches.

Titled ‘I Promise to Love You’, this unique Emin/Webster collaboration features a shimmering array of pendants and bracelets, ear cuffs, drop earrings and rings. Set in 18ct yellow gold, each unique piece bares heartfelt words including; ‘Love’, ‘More Passion’, ‘With You I Breathe’ and ‘I Promise To Love You’, all of which are scrawled in Emin’s distinctive handwriting.

Since love is definitely in the air this month, this coveted 18ct yellow gold ring (£500) says it all. It is available to purchase at Webster’s pop-up store on Albemarle Street until the end of March and then, from his new Mount Street salon.

Stephen Webster, 24 Albemarle Street

Shop Tactics with Carolina Bucci

It was the night of San Lorenzo and having witnessed the Perseid meteor shower in the inky skies above Florence, jeweller Carolina Bucci had a bright idea. She would take inspiration from nature’s annual light show for her latest collection and call it “Superstellar’.

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As part of her starry theme, the London-based jeweller with Italian roots, also looked to the 1960’s – to Jasper Johns’ flag paintings and the stencilled works of Mario Schifano. The resulting mix and match earrings come in various coloured pave finishes – with or without long shooting star earring backs. After all, no two stars are ever the same.

Founded in Florence by her great grandfather Ferdinando Bucci in 1885, the family-run jewellers has just celebrated its 130-year anniversary. Surrounded by jewellery and artisans from an early age, it came as no surprise when Carolina decided to continue the family line and pursue a career as a jeweller.

She studied fine arts and jewellery design in New York before returning to Florence to work alongside local goldsmiths. Her first collection, ‘Woven’, was created on a centuries-old Florentine textile loom. Carolina used it to weave gold and silk threads into bracelets and other signature pieces. She also applies the same methods and tools used by her great grandfather to combine the tradition of Florentine craftsmanship into one-of-a-kind designs.

Whether it’s taking tea at Sotheby’s café or admiring the work of celebrated artists and jewellers, Carolina likes nothing better than spending a day in and around Bond Street. She shares her favourite haunts below:

Hermès, 155 New Bond Street 

A brand to aspire to: traditional craftsmanship of the highest standard combining both heritage and innovation. I love its fun windows and displays. Here, craftsmanship is highly regarded and the quality of each hand-stitched leather article sings when you touch it. Exquisite silks are as precious as gold to me and Hermès continues to surprise with new designs and collections, which I find truly inspiring.

Harry Fane, 13 Duke Street, St James’s

A true treasure trove of jewellery awaits you at the top of a small staircase in St James’s. Harry Fane is a wonderful discovery. He is the UK representative of my all-time favourite jewellery designer, Fulco di Verdura. He was the cousin of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and got his break in jewellery when Cole Porter introduced him to Coco Chanel. The jeweller then went on to produce some of the most iconic and daring pieces of the 20th century. Whenever I am feeling uninspired I revisit his amazing designs to remember that anything is possible.

Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street

Sotheby’s is always in flux. One day it is hosting a contemporary art auction, the next old masters, then fine jewellery or sculpture. It provides the perfect 15-minute break between meetings and the building itself is rich with history and stories. Furthermore, it is also a great place to enjoy afternoon tea and watch the buyers and sellers coming and going.

Luxembourg & Dayan, 2 Savile Row

This is a small commercial gallery, which stages important historical shows in a tasteful and unpretentious way. It revitalises lost artists’ careers as well as putting an interesting slant on more established names. It is one of those galleries that avoids slavishly following fashion but at the same time manages to establish trends.

Chucs, 30B Dover Street

Chucs is one of my favourite places in Mayfair for an intimate dinner. It takes me straight to the heart of Italy with its simple, yet delicious, dishes. In my opinion it serves the best vitello tonnato in London. The interior design is wonderful. On a cold, wet winter’s night it can make you feel like it is July in Portofino and you are stepping out onto the deck of a glamorous friend’s yacht.

The Q&A: Laurent Feniou, Managing Director Cartier UK

Watches and jewellery are always at the heart of Cartier, but this year might best be described as the year of the diamond for the celebrated French jeweller

This can be seen in a series of launches and a new exhibition, ‘Le Diamant’, which opens at Phillips, Berkeley Square – November 25-26th. This exclusive by-appointment-only event will house the largest selection of Cartier diamonds ever to be shown in the UK.

36819Inside the Rue de la Paix Cartier boutique, the Swedish actress Anita Ekberg falls for a cascade of diamonds, 1956 © Rue des Archives

Phillips’ contemporary Mayfair HQ provides the perfect backdrop to this extensive collection of current and rare jewellery designs. These include an Art Deco inspired ‘Oriental’ tiara from the Tradition Collection, which dates back to 1911 and holds a total of 1,218 diamonds. Ornate pieces like these are a reminder of Cartier’s glamorous past and its glittering Hollywood heyday. The showcase also marks the launch of the new ‘Galanterie de Cartier’ collection, which fuses diamonds and onyx in modern settings. All pieces, vintage and new, are available to buy over the two days.

_Galanterie-de-Cartier-collection-1Galanterie de Cartier Ring – white gold & diamonds – £POA

According to Cartier UK’s Laurent Feniou, the brand is keen to embrace modernity and showcase continuous innovation and attention to detail. Here, the former investment banker sheds light on Cartier’s unrivalled craftsmanship and its plans to refurbish major stores in London and across the globe.

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Prior to Cartier you held the post of managing director at Rothschild Bank. Are there any similarities between the worlds of finance and fine jewellery, which have surprised you?

 As a banker my focus was on creating value for the customer and driving my team towards this goal. Making the transition into the luxury industry I find many similarities. The focus is always on the client and how to achieve long-term client satisfaction and loyalty. Quality, creativity and service are key in order to differentiate oneself.

This month, Le Diamant opens at Phillips. Are the lines between art and fine jewellery becoming increasingly blurred? 

Cartier has always been enveloped into art, be it through jewellery, watches, objects, digital innovation and more. In 1984, Cartier set up The Fondation Cartier, which expresses Cartier’s commitment to the arts as a corporate patron.  Cartier is a pioneer in the field. It invests greatly in promoting the arts of the time. This commitment to art echoes the reasoning behind the exhibition being hosted within Phillips.

At Cartier today, at least ten years’ experience is required to be able to work on unique pieces, which demand sound mastery of techniques. There are workshops reserved for solitaires, high jewellery, fine jewellery and much more. The art of jewellery requires patience and dexterity. At Cartier, the excellence of the final product is answered by the perfection of craftsmanship sustained by the exacting standards of the eye and hand, which I believe in itself is art.

How would you define Cartier’s relationship with London and in particular, Bond Street?

Cartier has been present on Bond Street for over a hundred years. In 1902, Pierre Cartier, founder Alfred’s second son, opened a store at No.4 New Burlington Street. Another store followed in 1909 at 175-176 New Bond Street. This has remained the UK flagship store ever since, alongside new openings in Old Bond Street, Sloane Street, Harrods and Selfridges. The Cartier boutique on New Bond Street hosts an exceptional range of high jewellery, timepieces and tradition pieces. The Tradition pieces are very special – these are vintage Cartier pieces from 1800 – 1960.  Only 12 boutiques around the world have the privilege to host these pieces and New Bond Street is one of them.

With regard to updating our stores, as Cartier New Bond Street is its UK flagship, this will be a really exciting transformation. Within this development there will be the ‘Watch Shop’ and the ‘Archive’ section, which will be up and running next year.

Are you seeing any new trends in the preferred style, or cut, or colour in diamonds, or shapes/designs in jewellery for 2016?

At Cartier our aim is to magnify the beauty of diamonds through the creativity of our designs as demonstrated in the new ‘Galanterie de Cartier’ collection. It is creative and very sophisticated with its black and white pattern – a characteristic that is also shared in the black and white trinity diamond pavé offer.

Georg Jensen: Sleek Danish Design, Innovation and Ingenious Craftsmanship.

Remember the old adage, when one door closes another one opens? Such is the case, quite literally speaking, for Danish silversmith Georg Jensen. While last month saw the closure of its Bond Street flagship after 80 years on the block, there have been a flurry of new London store openings in Westfield, The Royal Exchange and Harrods.

But nothing can compare to the bigger, bolder Georg Jensen flagship, which is set to open at No.89 Mount Street later this month. If you shop centrally and can’t wait for the doors to open, then the Danish brand’s new pop-up store in the Burlington Arcade, which houses the latest jewellery collections, Swiss-made watches, men’s accessories and silverware, should tide you over until then.

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Bright and compact, the elegantly designed ‘stopgap’ will run until the end of October. Not that this temporary space has the air here-today-gone-tomorrow about it. In fact the narrow three-storey space looks so at home in the arcade, you could be forgiven for thinking that it has been here for years – not weeks.

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Georg Jensen has been producing designs with a distinctive modernist aesthetic since its beginnings in 1904. Its sculptural forms combined with ideas of simplicity and functionalism, are unique to its Danish heritage.

“Danish design is red hot right around the world right now,” says Steve Amstutz. As chief commercial officer, he is charged with overseeing the marque’s continued expansion in the UK and in other countries across Europe. “We are definitely surfing the fashionable ‘Danish’ trend while each of our designs remains true to our Scandinavian design values,” he adds.

Amstutz also notes the close link between Georg Jensen and other creative fields. “We resonate very much as a house of art and design and have a strong tradition of artistic collaborations.”

This can be seen in the latest pairings between the Danish design house and two of Australia’s most celebrated designers – conceptual jeweller Jordan Askill and industrial designer Marc Newson. Their specially commissioned collections for Georg Jensen will launch in September.

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The Askill Collection

In creating his namesake “Askill Collection’, the jeweller takes inspiration from the natural forms of the Art Nouveau era and the use of oxidized silver in many of the archival Georg Jensen pieces. As part of his research Askill scoured the 111-year-old library of jewellery sketches and chose the butterfly as a modern symbol rather than choosing it for its traditional decorative appeal. “I was looking for an organic metaphor, a representational object that I could change using 3D methods to create interesting jewels, almost like a pop art approach,” he explains.

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The Askill Collection

Meanwhile, Marc Newson has created a limited edition silver tea service. Just ten have been produced comprising a teapot, coffee pot, creamer, sugar bowl and tray – all stamped with the initials ‘MN’. Newson’s design brief? To shake the family heirloom image of tea sets and reintroduce them to younger luxury aficionados. Danish pastries are optional.