NEW YORK TIMES December 1st 2017
London Jewelry Gets an Awards Event: The Leopards
By RACHEL GARRAHAN DEC. 1, 2017
LONDON — There is an abundance of award ceremonies this time of year. Few industries miss an opportunity to fete themselves and their biggest stars with a glamorous, hopefully headline-grabbing night out.
The organizers of the first Leopards Awards for Excellence in Jewelry, held Nov. 15, looked to stars outside the industry to raise jewelry’s profile among a wider audience.
The organizers were Carol Woolton, a writer and jewelry editor of British Vogue; Susan Farmer, a jewelry consultant; and the jewelers Solange Azagury-Partridge, Shaun Leane, Stephen Webster and Theo Fennell.
Calling themselves the London Leopards, a reference to the hallmark that has been used for centuries to mark gold and silver pieces weighed in the city, they said that jewelry deserves more attention than it sometimes receives.
“We feel jewelry is very important culturally, and very important to London,” said Ms. Woolton, who added that the capital continues to be a valuable destination in terms of jewelry design, craftsmanship and sales.
Ms. Azagury-Partridge noted a lack of news coverage about the industry and said, “It’s time to put it on the map and in people’s consciousnesses.”
The organizers chose the winners, and the awards — small leopard statues that were designed by Ms. Azagury-Partridge — were presented at a dinner in the gilded, candle-chandelier-lit Goldsmiths’ Hall, the center of British jewelry for almost 700 years.
David Furnish collected the Leopard Legend award for his husband, Elton John, who was on tour. CreditDavid M. Benett
The fashion designer Gareth Pugh presented Daphne Guinness, the muse and musician known for her distinctive style and close collaboration with designers including Alexander McQueen, with the award for Jewelry in Fashion.
The Netflix series “The Crown” was awarded a Leopard for Jewelry on Screen and the Victoria & Albert Museum was recognized for its contribution to Jewelry in the Arts.
Elton John was named Leopard Legend, his award collected by his husband, David Furnish, who joked that Mr. John could not be there because he was on tour in order “to buy more jewelry.”
One award category was conspicuously absent. There was no Leopard for best jewelry designer or brand. “We didn’t want to pitch one jeweler against another,” Ms. Woolton said. “We didn’t want the awards to be generically industry. We wanted them to appeal to a very broad group of people and to provoke everyone to think about the importance of jewelry in their lives, in art, in film.”
The event, held in aid of the Prince’s Trust charitable organization, will also help support a mentorship program for jewelry designers under 30.
The Leopards selected the winners: Louis Browning, Katherine Anderson, Mollie Rose Hemming and Hannah Jackson.
The winners’ entries will be produced with the Leopards’ guidance and sold at their stores, with proceeds donated to the Prince’s Trust.
Ms. Azagury-Partridge said she hoped the event and the mentorship program would help inspire a new generation of designers and jewelry makers. “It’s a dying art and we hope more young people will want to be a part of it,” she said.