The master craftsman, who's new collection is available at Bloomingdale's in The Dubai Mall, spoke to us his passion, Dubai
Theo Fennell unveils new collection in Dubai
Theo Fennell flew to the UAE this month to unveil his new fine jewellery collection, which is available at Bloomingdale's in The Dubai Mall.
Welcome back. How important a market is the UAE for you?
It's a very cosmopolitan market and unlike some others in the Middle East that we work in, like Kuwait or Qatar, which tend to have a much more local, indigenous market. The whole world comes to Dubai and the UAE, so it's a terrific showcase for us.
What do you make of traditional Arabic jewellery and the way Emirati women like to accessorise with precious-stone pieces?
I think they look great. The thing about wearing anything "theatrical" is that you have to have the ability to carry it off. If you're nervous about what you're wearing, you won't be able to pull it off. It's like performing a high dive: you must have full courage, get out there and whoosh! The moment you start to wobble, it becomes a bellyflop. One of the great things about the women here is that they have great confidence to carry off the look.
What's the most sentimental piece of jewellery you own?
I've made a lot of things for my wife and daughters, and all of those have real sentiment to them. I'm a great believer in sentimental jewellery - pieces should always have meaning to them. I especially like the idea of "granny's brooch", "Mary's ring", etc, rather than jewellery just being bought or worn as a fashion statement.
What's the most treasured piece you've designed for your wife?
It's always the last bit. It has to be. It was for our coral wedding anniversary and so I did a coral skull wearing a queen's crown of diamonds with the inscription around the rim saying "till death do us part" in Latin.
How many years of marriage does coral mark?
It's 35 years - which naturally means I was seven when I married her and it was one of those arranged marriages!
I see you don't wear a wedding band, so what jewellery do you wear?
I've got a lucky gold bangle that I've worn forever, since I was a young man. I've also got a watch that I designed and made 25 years ago and I often team that with some leather bracelets with metal detailing.
If you work with jewellery all the time it has a different appeal. It's like asking a musician to give you a song or quizzing a doctor at a dinner party about your aches and pains. So, while I try stuff out, to wear a lot of my own jewellery feels a bit like a busman's holiday.
How does it feel to see others wearing your designs?
I love it, especially if somebody really carries it off. And not everything we make is incredibly theatrical - that's the stuff that obviously gets the most press and what we're known for but we also do a lot of classic, straightforward stuff.
Your eponymous brand has been going since 1982. How do you keep it fresh?
Well, I don't get bored. I still love what I do and if you keep your eyes, ears and mind open at all times there will always be new influences. I often finish a piece and think, "Wow. It's so far away from what I did five years ago", which is a good thing.
I also employ really good craftsmen - some of whom are 18 and just starting out, some of whom have been with me 30 years. There are kids in the studio around 21 years of age in addition to us old folks, so that's how the brand is always reviving itself.
Sum up Theo Fennell jewellery in one sentence.
Well-made, original and quirky.
The Theo Fennell jewellery collection is available in the fine jewellery and watches department in Bloomingdale's, The Dubai Mall. Prices available on request. For more information contact Bloomingdale's, 04 350 5333, or visit www.theofennell.com
New collection choice pieces
• Koi carp 18-carat white gold and blue enamel pendant with blue topaz surrounded by diamonds
• Chandelier earrings with flowers and hummingbirds in 18-carat gold, sapphires and diamonds
• Chinese secret garden ring in yellow and pink gold with African green tourmaline encrusted in diamonds
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