Friday, May 1, 2009


Today we stand on the north bank of the River Thames in the Chelsea District of London, England.

The Chelsea District is famous for its annual flower show and its fashion-forward ideology. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Theo Fennell.

To say that Theo Fennell is quite the character is aptly stated. He is a self-described "diva" who secretly wanted to be in show business as a child, but his staunch upbringing quelled it . . . well, not really.

He is such an avid fan of the England cricket team he can watch a game on television for hours without moving, "Sometimes my family think I'm dead," he says.

Believe it or not, he drove for years without a license, but once his wife of over 20 years, Louise, found out she put a stop to that .

All-in-all Fennell is enormously likable with his self-deprecating manner, palpable sense of humor, and unabashed sensitivity, "The smallest thing can make me howl like a baby. I used to sob whenever either of my girls did anything in a school play."

With such a vivid personality, it’s no wonder that Fennell's designs are as multi-faceted as he is. He makes spectacular use of gold, diamonds, gold tourmaline, citrine, and tanzanite, and this makes for equally spectacular price tags.

Before venturing into jewelry design, Fennell worked for a silversmith company called Edward Barnard. One day a silver champagne flute, with "Good Morning Diana" engraved on it, was brought in for repair.

The implication of the message, that Diana drinks a glass of champagne first thing each morning, amused Fennell. It was at this moment that Fennell wanted to explore the untapped market of "amusing silverware." "I loved the irreverence of that piece – that something so functional yet beautifully made could also have a frivolity to it."

In 1980, he opened his first shop selling very popular items such as silver lids, silver sleeves for ketchup, and Perrier and San Pelegrino bottles. By 1982, Fennell introduced what he calls "Unstuffy Alternative Jewelry" which, based on my observation, is edgy, whimsical, outlandish, and romantic (reminiscent of House of Waris).

His designs also have a distinctive vintage style somewhat similar to Van Cleef & Arpels. Fennell designed an aviator skull ring in homage of Amelia Earhart, "It's one of the pieces of which I am most proud."

Fennell's clientele include David and Victoria Beckham, Kate Beckinsale, and Liz Hurley. and the Theo Fennell brand features 14 collections including the Bella Collection (which contains dainty, delicate items), and the Lattice Collection (which contains items that are kind of creepy). In addition to jewelry, the Theo Fennell brand has a fragrance line and men's cuff links.

In February 2008, Fennell left his 26-year-old company to launch a private practice. His decision to do this came shortly after the appointment of Pamela Harper to Chief Executive.

After lengthy negotiations, Fennell has retained a 15% stake in his company, his famous clientele, and he will also design two annual collections for the Theo Fennell brand; however, he must relinquish his name from all designs commissioned in private practice.

"Changes like this happens to lots of people and if it all works out, I hope I can have the best of both worlds, with the freedom to express myself and take chances."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-karat Yellow and White Gold Pavé Diamond and Enamel Fairy Heart Trellis Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow and White Gold Carved Mammoth Bone Lost Flyer Skull Ring (homage to Amelia Earhart)
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