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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Garrard Uses Its Heritage For Its Contemporary Jewels

1735 Marguerite sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring, modeled after the ring first presented to princess Diana and now worn by Kate Middleton

The world’s oldest jeweler is working hard to appeal to younger consumers by using a formula that is fairly common among luxury brands. It is taking the essence of its heritage and applying it in the design of new, contemporary jewels at a more accessible price.

The House of Garrard, under the leadership of creative director Sara Prentice, is producing petite, understated jewels designed to be worn daily with storylines and details that reference the brand’s history, which the company traces back to 1735.

18k white gold stud earrings from the Enchanted Palace collection, the bejeweled bugs are set with a turquoise body, diamond pave wings and yellow gold legs. It sits on removable diamond-shape patterned bars, set with white round diamonds

Among its new releases is the “Enchanted Palace” collection, which takes its inspiration from the Great Exhibition of 1851, celebrating the advancements of the Victorian age in manufacturing and design. Garrard displayed nearly 100 pieces of jewelry, silverware and trophies at the exhibition, inspired by their commissions for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The jewels included turquoise, blue sapphires and diamonds among other precious stones and featured quirky designs such as ‘fly’ brooches enormously popular with the Queen and the Victorian people as a symbol of humility.

The jewels as well as the architectural design of the Palace itself (which included 300,000 glass windows) inspired The Enchanted Palace collection. The fly returns, reproduced in turquoise with delicate diamond encrusted wings. There are jewels designed to spin, revealing diamonds or sapphires with each twist. There are also rock crystal windows studded with diamonds and multi-wear pendants and earrings with removable tassels and drops.

18k white gold tassel earrings from the Enchanted Palace collection, set with a detachable rock crystal motif and sapphire tassels

The collection “celebrates the fun and quirky side of design, so embraced by the Victorians,” Prentice says. “Each piece has a beautiful simplicity to its design but is incredibly technical in its construction and in this way I think we have captured the spirit of the era perfectly.”

Today the company is housed in a magnificent four-story corner building designed and built for Garrard on Albemarle Street, just off Bond Street. It contains a workshop, a showroom on the first floor for its newest creations, and the records and artifacts of the company’s unique history. On my visit in March, I was taken to the Queen Mary room on the second floor. Named with the consent of Queen Mary in 1911, among other artifacts, contains images of five of the nine royal crowns created by Garrard. They are as follows:

* The Imperial State Crown of India;

* The matching Queen Consort’s crown for King George V and Queen Mary, with Queen Mary’s crown set with the fabled Koh-i-Noor diamond;

* Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s consort’s crown and Imperial State Crown remodeled for George VI in 1937, with high arches. The entire crown was then remade again by Garrard for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 with lowered arches for a Queen, and a smaller band to fit her head, but still using the same stones, which include the Black Prince’s Ruby and the Cullinan II diamond, sister of the enormous Cullinan I, which is set into the Sovereign’s Sceptre;

In addition, Garrard created a petite crown for Queen Victoria, who couldn’t bear the weight of a normal-sized crown.

While the jewelry house has made some of the most iconic crowns and tiaras in history, it’s most famous piece is the sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring first owned by Princess Diana and now worn by Kate Middleton, upon her engagement to Diana’s son, Prince Harry. The luxury brand recreated many of the details of that ring with its 1735 Marguerite sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring. The center stone also is available in ruby and emerald, to add variety and bring a personal take for the iconic ring. The 1735 Marguerite collection also includes matching earrings and pendants with an oval or cushion shaped center stone.

So while the formula for using heritage to create contemporary products isn’t a new strategy for luxury brands, Garrard just has so much more history to work with that it stands a better chance of success. 

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