SCREEN GEM: Asprey, the British jeweler and luxury accessories brand, is hitting small screens this week as the subject of a lighthearted, fly-on-the-wall documentary that proves just how much money is sloshing around London’s Bond Street.
The one-hour segment, “Inside Asprey: Luxury by Royal Appointment,” was produced by Plum Pictures and is narrated by Jim Carter, who plays Mr. Carson on “Downton Abbey.” It will be broadcast by ITV in England on Thursday.
This story first appeared in the July 3, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Filmed last year over the course of six months, the show highlights the brand’s flush and famous clientele, and underlines the talents and dedication of Asprey’s on-site craftsmen and staff. Samuel L. Jackson has a cameo performance, along with a lineup of Middle and Far Eastern luxury goods mavens. For those wondering how Jackson spends his pocket money, look no further than the Asprey safe that’s shaped like a sitting gorilla and costs 55,000 pounds, or $93,780 at current exchange.
“I think there’s a natural fascination about how these luxury companies work, and the show shines a light on Asprey’s craftsmanship, creativity, customer service and production quality,” Paddy Byng, Asprey’s managing director, told WWD.
Highlights include an unassuming Texan woman who drops upward of 6,000 pounds, or $10,230, on a pair of salt-and-pepper shakers inspired by the poem “The Owl and the Pussycat”; the man who defies his fear of heights to clean the big glass skylights that overlook the store’s central atrium, and the conscientious craftsman under pressure to complete a new jewelry collection. The jewelry designer breathes down his neck and asks: “Are you linked? Are you soldered?”
And while there may be tiaras, there are no tears: Most of the tension comes from a glittering pile of 41 one-off bejeweled handbags with 18-karat-gold fittings that cost an average of 33,000 pounds, or $56,270, each. At first, they’re not the most popular items, but then a Saudi royal sweeps in and has them loaded onto her private jet. The Private Handbag Collection, as it’s known, is going strong and Asprey will launch the third one later this year, Byng said.
Lest anyone assume that Asprey is solely about five- and six-figure items, it’s not. “If you’re making a documentary, it’s not terribly interesting to film someone buying a wallet or a key ring,” said Byng, adding that Asprey is still balancing its very high-end jewelry and accessories business with its gift-giving one.