x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Resurgent jeweller Garrard 'entangles' Dubai with new collection

With a history of royal commissions spanning nearly 300 years, including the engagement ring for the Duchess of Cambridge, Garrard is the world's oldest jeweller and arguably the most discreet.

With a history of royal commissions spanning nearly 300 years, Garrard is the world's oldest jeweller and arguably the most discreet.

Having experienced something of a renaissance since the iconic Dh1.5 million engagement ring once worn by Princess Diana graced the hand of the Duchess of Cambridge in November 2010, at no point did the master British jeweller seek to capitalise on the publicity.

"It happens to be a very visible commission," says chief executive Eric Deardorff. "And one of the critical long-term attributes of Garrard is that what we do for people remains confidential unless it becomes visible from their end. But we would never copy the ring and we haven't actively sold or displayed smaller and bigger sapphire and diamond clusters - even though our competitors have."

By wearing one of the most famous pieces of jewellery in the world, the Duchess has become a silent ambassador for the historic house, embodying the classic-yet-contemporary brand through her natural "style and grace", says Deardorff.

Protocol and pageantry have gone hand-in-hand for Garrard since 1735, when the founder George Wickes was appointed goldsmith to the Prince of Wales, having first entered his mark at London's Goldsmiths Hall in 1722. The company name was cemented by then-partner Robert Garrard Sr, who took sole control of the firm in 1802, and the jeweller remained with the family for the next 144 years.

Most notably in 1843, Queen Victoria appointed Garrard as Crown Jeweller, a tradition that continued for six successive monarchs. Historical royal pieces crafted by the houses include Queen Victoria's signature small crown of 1,187 diamonds made in 1870, Queen Mary's crown for the Coronation of 1911 and the Imperial Crown of India worn by King George V later that same year.

Another Coronation 26 years later saw Garrard receive the commission for a crown set with the Koh-I-Noor diamond to be worn by the late Queen Mother. The Imperial State Crown was subsequently remounted in 1937 and adjusted for The Queen's Coronation in 1953.

"One of the things we do is leverage our history," says Deardorff. "In 1914, we made a tiara for Queen Mary called the Cambridge Lovers Knot and the motif of that tiara was the inspiration behind the Entanglement Collection, which we launched a couple of years ago. So when you see our current pieces, there's roughly 100 years' worth of history in the design."

For the next four weeks, Garrard's flagship boutique in Dubai Mall will display more than a dozen pieces from the Entanglement series including intricately designed collars and cuffs in precious stones valued at between Dh22,000 and Dh367,000.

"It's a beautifully artistic, contemporary collection," says Deardorff, who was in the region attending the Doha Jewellery fair this past week and stopped off at the Garrard boutique in the Dubai Mall to deliver the new Entanglement pieces. "We've also just added gorgeous multi-strand ruby, emerald and sapphire necklaces with diamond clasps bearing the Entanglement motif. The pieces lay very well and are appropriate for the 21st century - so even though the collection's routes are quite old, we've learnt to move with the times."

To ensure its continued appeal with new generations and in new markets, Garrard brought Jade Jagger on board as creative director in 2002, followed by Stephen Webster five years later. In a nod to tradition, pieces still frequently bear the original "G and crown" hallmark from 1822 but styles, in particular for the discerning Gulf market, often bear traces of Webster's quirky, unconventional style.

Garrard's association with the Middle East stems back to the 1970s and high-profile commissions, requests for bespoke medals and objets d'art have gained particular momentum in recent years signalling that further regional expansion is on the horizon, says Deardorff.

"Buyers in the Middle East are clearly global travellers with very sophisticated tastes," he says. "They appreciate creativity and, generally speaking, favour bigger stones, which make for pretty magnificent statement pieces."

Making a statement of a different kind, Garrard has also been handling corporate bespoke commissions for more than two centuries and its name has become synonymous with the America's Cup and the ICC Cricket World Cup. Another special commission came from the UAE back in 1996 and once again Garrard's gleaming gold trophy will be held aloft by the winning jockey in the final race of the Dubai World Cup on March 31 at Meydan Racecourse.

To see the Entanglement collection, visit www.garrard.com, visit Garrard on the ground floor of Dubai Mall or call 04 339 8386.

rduane@thenational.ae