Jewelry designer reaches for a bit of Chinese bling
Updated: 2013-08-11 08:29
By Liu Lu (China Daily)
As Chinese culture becomes increasingly popular around the world, an increasing number of top international jewelry brands have begun looking at how to incorporate elements of it into their designs.
Theo Fennell wants to win more wealthy Chinese consumers. Photo provide to China Daily.
London-based jewelry designer Theo Fennell, whose clients include Elton John, the Beckhams and Helen Mirren, is a pioneer of this trend, with many of his latest designs a fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics.
Fennell's Chinese Secret Garden ring, which sells for about 40,000 pounds ($61,500), is typical of this fusion. Tiny-hinged doors on the ring open to reveal a miniature traditional Chinese garden painted in enamel.
"People, particularly those in the West, are captivated by the unique exotic beauty of these jewelry pieces," Fennell says.
The 62-year-old jeweler, who has made his name producing unique jewelry for high-profile clients, is not content making jewelry with Chinese elements, he also wants his brand to become well-known among wealthy Chinese consumers.
His concessions in Harrods and Selfridges were popular with Chinese tourists, giving him the confidence to vie for a place in the Chinese market.
"I think the Chinese market is much more sophisticated than the West understands, and there are many discerning people who want pieces specially designed and made for them," he says. "That is real uniqueness, real luxury. But big jewelry brands have been unable to meet their needs for one-off individual things."
As more Chinese consumers seek individuality, Fennell believes there is a growing opportunity for jewelry artists like himself.
Born to a British army family in Egypt, Fennell was educated at Eton College before studying at Byam Shaw School of Art in London, now part of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. He later trained as a silversmith in Hatton Garden, London's jewelry quarter and center of Britain's diamond trade, before setting up his own jewelry line in 1982.
"I've found my obsession with detail and the ability to interpret grand design on a miniature scale make jewelry the perfect vehicle for my art," he says.
Fennell launched his first shop in Chelsea in 1982, and went on to open boutique outlets in many of England's most famous department stores. From there he opened more stores around the world and developed Theo Fennell into a global luxury jewelry brand that boasts celebrity fans.
"There is a big difference between a jewelry brand and a luxury goods brand," he says. "Jewelry should be made to last for generations and should make the wearer feel individual, not just one of a crowd wearing the same thing."