A Tour of Theo Fennell’s Secret Garden Ring



Rainy days (and Mondays) getting you down? We have the perfect pick-me-up: Theo Fennell’s Secret ­Garden. The 18k gold, tourmaline, diamond, and enamel ring immediately transported us to a sun-soaked, flower-filled estate; coincidentally, that’s how Fennell got the idea for this ingenious jewel (retail: 38,500 GBP). “I was sitting in a great friend of mine’s garden in Bergerac, France, and sketching,” recalls the British designer. “I imagined a secret door leading to a secret garden, and the green of the garden matched the stone, so—voilà!” And while ­Fennell frequently stops to smell the roses, he’s less likely to plant a poppy than to fashion one from gold. “I don’t garden,” he admits. “But I love to watch others doing it!”

Magnificent Seven

It took a team of seven (“some of the greatest craftsmen in the world”) about four months to create the Secret Garden. “Not counting me and the studio, there was a stone cutter and polisher, the brilliant mounter—the goldsmith who makes the basic ring—a stone setter, engraver, polisher, plater, and an enameller,” says Fennell. “It is like building a magnificent but tiny stately home.”

Small World

“The bit you see from the door is about 9 mm by 14 mm,” says Fennell. Yet in that space the designer managed to hand-enamel an entire landscape, from the grass on up to the ivy-covered brick wall. “The purple flower is a hollyhock,” says Fennell, “and to either side are sweet peas—traditional flowers in an English country garden.”

Green Light

It’s the bespoke jeweler’s version of the chicken-and-egg question: Which came first, the gem or the design? “In this case, the stone,” says Fennell of this stunning 16.37 ct. Paraiba tourmaline. Its “luscious, spring green” shade made him think of a garden after a rain. “To have gone and searched for such a stone would have been horrendous—though sometimes that is what I do if the idea is strong enough!”

Open-Door Policy

Two vaguely medieval, fully functional brown gold doors are anchored to either side of the ring. “The garden is secret until the wearer opens them to show you the inside,” says Fennell. “It makes the whole thing much more personal and talismanic, as great jewels should be.”