VOGUE November 16th 2017
London Jewellery Ups The Glamour At The Inaugural Leopard Awards
Presented at the Goldsmith’s Hall on Wednesday evening, the inaugural Leopard Awards put the spotlight on the great and emerging jewellers of London, with more than a few glamorous clients in tow.
Thursday 16 November 2017
“This is literally the best excuse to wear my most oversized, over-fabulous, over-the-top jewellery,” the young jewellery designer said of the first Leopard Awards, an initiative honouring the jewellers of London in partnership with the Prince’s Trust. “It’s a celebration of jewellery, and we needed it. It’s our prom night. We’re quite a few people in the industry, so it’s good to gather and recognise people’s work,” Getty noted.
A group effort from the most influential names on the city’s jewellery scene, spearheaded by Vogue's own jewellery editor Carol Woolton, the evening took its name from the Leopard hallmark used to mark gold and silver pieces produced in London since 1363. "We wanted to honour the role of jewellery in the arts," said Woolton. "This is the first jewellery awards ceremony of its kind - I want it to become the Oscars of the jewellery world."
“It’s about raising the profile of jewellery, and taking the word ‘accessory’ away from jewellery. Jewellery is not an accessory,” Solange Azagury-Partridge asserted at the dinner, where candlelit chandeliers illuminated the great ballroom filled with tables taken by supportive brands including Tiffany & Co, Swarovski, Mappin & Webb, Forevermark and Garrard. “We want to nurture young talent. We want young people to be interested,” she said. “It’s a very close chop, the jewellery business. I felt like that, and I still in some ways do feel like that. This is a way of bringing them in and helping them out and helping them find their way.”
Along with Susan Farmer, Theo Fennell, Shaun Leane, Stephen Webster and Woolton, Azagury-Partridge makes up the London Leopards, who made the evening a reality. “As a group we began discussing how we could put jewellery back on everyone’s minds,” Shaun Leane recalled, flanked by a part futuristic, part medieval Daphne Guinness, who, as the jeweller’s enduring supporter, was awarded the Leopard Jewellery In Fashion Honour, presented by Gareth Pugh. “It’s nice to work with people who let us fly. That’s what Daphne Guinness does with Shaun,” Azagury-Partridge said.
“I love that the evening is filled with the most beautiful young talent, who are not the names you hear most in jewellery – the old houses we know and love – but people who are working their way up,” Arizona Muse pointed out.
Dressed in earrings from Eugenie Niarchos’ label Venyx, the model presented the most important award of the evening, a mentorship programme with The Prince’s Trust in which emerging jewellery designers will be given the opportunity to train in the workshops of the London Leopards. The young hopefuls were Louis Browning, Katherine Anderson, Mollie Rose Hemming, and Hannah Jackson.
“When you’re a new jewellery designer, you have the challenge of not having a household name,” Sabine Getty explained. “Normally in jewellery you come from families with generations of jewellers, but when you’re new there’s a trust that needs to be built with the customer. This is our biggest challenge. You’ve really got to invest your time in getting to know your customer, getting them to trust you and come to you.” One of those customers is Sir Elton John, whose husband David Furnish accepted the Leopard Legend Award on his behalf, honouring the singer’s support of British jewellery.
“Jewellery brings so much joy to his life. He’s not here tonight because he’s touring in Canada,” Furnish paused, “so he can buy more jewellery!” On behalf of The Crown, Vanessa Kirby – who plays Princess Margaret on the show – accepted the Leopard Award for Jewellery on Screen, explaining how invaluable the replicas worn by actors in the series are to their performances. “Jewellery is essential to create the magic,” she said. “Tonight is about how jewellery impacts all of the arts,” Azagury-Patridge concurred, “which is why we’ve honoured people, who honour jewellery as much as we honour it, rather than honouring ourselves.”