Reinterpreting the past in a modern way still requires the very best master craftsmen

© Written by Rachael Taylor for BaselWorld Brand Book 

High jewellery with multifunctionality might seem like a quirk of the modern world, but such outstanding creativity and craftsmanship has been in practice at Garrard since the 1800s.

And the British jewellery house is currently experiencing a resurgence in demand for such hardworking jewels, in particular its tiaras. “Trends and fashion are a lot to do with it,” says head designer Sarah Prentice, who joined Garrard in September, 2012, after working for Cartier, Graff and Fabergé.”While there has been a constant stream of demand for tiaras, popularity is at one of its highest peaks now. Is it the fact of the royal wedding? The queen’s jubilee? Everybody is wondering the same.”

Creating these masterpieces is not just about capturing the zeitgeist, it is about celebrating the history of a brand that has been trading since 1802. “When I came here I wanted to look into the Britishness and the heritage behind the brand and tiaras was one of the main things that came out in my research,” says Prentice.

The tiaras she references are usually bought for brides. Traditionally, such jewels would be stowed away after the wedding day, but Garrard’s tiaras have a beautiful concept that allows their owner to liberate more wearable jewels from the tiara itself.

Prentice and her team have all had training in technical jewellery design and manufacture, so they design in a way that creates beautiful yet functional creations. The key element, she says, is that the customer should be able to set the jewels free herself. “It’s very easy, once you’ve had a lesson,” she promises.

When connected as a tiara, the jewels are invisible, but a series of hooks and clips can be released to set them apart. The Timeless tiara, for example, conceals a diamond necklace and diamond drop earrings.

Such intricacy takes master craftsmen, and Prentice says Garrard works with the best London has to offer, adding that the way that the tiaras are made has not changed much since the 1800s. “The techniques are very similar,” she says. “Manufacturing technologies have improved – we now have laser machines – but the basics are pretty much the same.”

This melding of the past and the present is exactly what Garrard is all about right now, and for Prentice this type of creative vision keeps her happy at her work. “For me, what is so lovely is Garrard a British brand and I can call in on the British heritage. I’m not going to copy the past but I can reinterpret it in a modern way.”

Read the original interview in the BaselWorld Brand Book 2014 here (pages 96-97).

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