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Brit Wits: London’s Fine Jewelry Scene

London stands out as a go-to town for fine jewels.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD A issue 10/19/2009

From cutting-edge design to innovative retail experiences, London has become a hub for fine jewelry.

 

The environmentally friendly jeweler Leblas has opened its first store on Sloane Street, and it’s filled with the brand’s signature filigree pieces made from recycled gold and silver. Housed in an early-18th century building, the cozy, 389-square-foot space is drenched in a rich palette of plum, black, gold and beige, while the delicate, fragile-looking jewels are displayed in glass cubes on black lacquered tables. “We wanted the store to feel like a living room— with warmth,” says Arabel Lebrusan, the label’s Spanish creative director, who founded Leblas with the British-born Clare Winfield in 2007. Leblas jewelry also is sold at leblas.com and prices start at 90 pounds, or $149 at current exchange, for a blackened silver filigree ring.

 

While on the design front, delicate bird bones and London’s industrial buildings are just two of the varied inspirations behind London jeweler Jessica McCormack’s ornate pieces. The New Zealand-born designer’s fine jewelry line, launched in 2007, runs from simple items such as 18-karat yellow gold rings cast from real bird bones, to a bold, pear-shaped yellow diamond pendant surrounded by a “cage” of white diamonds, and a pair of graphic gold and diamond earrings modeled on London’s Sixties-era BT Tower. But McCormack has an eye for tradition, too — her father ran an antiques auction house when she was a child in New Zealand, and she also has spent time working in the jewelry department at Sotheby’s in London. So far, her mix of old and new has attracted impressive followers, including Rihanna and Madonna. Prices for the line range from about $200 to $64,000.

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