JCK talks to Theo
Fennell—the English jewelry designer with a 29-year-old same-name firm and a flair for quirky designs—who is (finally!) making his U.S. market
debut at the upcoming LUXURY Privé show.
Jewelry designer Theo Fennell
JCK: Describe the
signature style of your work.
Theo Fennel: I
enjoy the quirky—a heart pendant with horns—and the surprising (a ring that
looks paved in bricks with a little door that opens to reveal a
landscape) but feel equally at home with the classic and the romantic. I
believe jewellery should really mean something and not be just a statement of
wealth or fashion.
JCK: What was
your entrée into jewelry?
TF: I worked in a
great silver smithing workshop that was 350 years old when I started, and I have
spent some time in a workshop most of my life since then. To me, the
studio and the workshop are the heartbeat of the business and real jewellery is
something emotionally engaging and life-enhancing; it should make you feel quiveringly
JCK: Tell us about your design process.
TF: I sketch out—sometimes
in detail and sometimes not—each idea. I then work with my small, incredibly
talented team in the studio and go into the workshop—both of which are
above our flagship store in London. I have probably the finest set of
craftsmen, some of whom have been with me for 30 years, with the broadest set
of skills of any in the world and they can make even my greatest excesses a
reality! Whenever it is practical, we make our own findings and components; we
take great pride in these details. The Theo Fennell workshop is one of the very
few workshops left to do all its own mounting, engraving, setting, and
JCK: In what
country is the jewelry made?
TF: All our handcrafted
jewellery is made in our workshop, in our flagship store in London, as is all of
our bespoke work, prototypes, and Masterworks.
JCK: What materials
do you work in?
and Theo Fennell collections are crafted in 18k gold or platinum and feature a
variety of precious coloured stones, including coloured diamonds, sapphires,
garnets, Paraiba tourmalines, rubelites, topaz, beryl, tanzanite, opal, and
Mammoth bone. These coloured stones lend themselves particularly well to
the work we create. The Alias collection is fine jewellery crafted in sterling
silver, and has a broad selection of semiprecious stones.
JCK: How many
U.S. accounts do you currently have?
TF: We will soon
be opening accounts on the east and west coast of the U.S.
JCK: How many
international accounts do you have?
TF: In addition
to retail and wholesale operations in the U.K., we have a retail presence in
Barbados, France, Russia, Kazakhstan, Dubai, and Hong Kong.
JCK: What jewelry
shows do you exhibit in?
TF: We exhibited
at Masterpiece London this year for the first time, which featured the
“best of the best” from the world of art and design. We also
curate our own shows, including “Showoff” at the Royal Academy of Arts
in London. We have never before done a trade show.
JCK: What is the
starting retail price for each metal you work in?
TF: In gold GBP
475 ($755) and in Alias fine silver jewellery GBP 75 ($119).