Style | Swellboy

Swellboy on… being a jewellery junkie

Taking a shine to things that glitter and glisten

Swellboy on… being a jewellery junkie

Image: Brijesh Patel

July 22 2010
Nick Foulkes

I find myself becoming more and more and interested in jewellery. In some ways this is nothing new. Even when I could count my age on both hands and still have a finger or two left over, I have been a jewellery wearer – back then it was a silver chain around the neck with a few religious medallions, a silver bracelet, and a couple of years later a ring or two. Now I have what is in effect a neck-worn charm bracelet wrapped around my throat, a right arm that on occasion boasts half a dozen bangles and bracelets, and a couple of rings – an 18th-century cameo of Socrates and a Punic era intaglio in a modern rub-over setting. I have also been letting myself go when it comes to cuff links, having recently commissioned a Moorish pair from Venetian jeweller Nardi – not cheap, but utterly unique.

However, far from having satisfied my magpie-like appetite for things that glint and glisten, I now find myself looking longingly at women’s jewellery, and there are a couple of people in particular who I blame for this; I find that it is the personalities as much the pieces that I like, and it is through them that I have become interested. Fawaz Gruosi is a person whose company I enjoy and by extension I appreciate his creativity in jewels. Another “enabler” of jewellery habit is his wife Caroline. A scion of the Chopard dynasty, Caroline is good fun to be around, but just because she enjoys life, don’t think she hasn’t got a head for business: she has built an impressive high jewellery business and her enthusiasm for gemstones, some exotic, some not, is infectious. Moreover, hanging around with her, I have been able to do things like hold a raw emerald the size of a medium-sized King Edward potato.

Talking of raw emeralds, I was also struck by what I can only describe as rods of emerald used in some new necklaces by Van Cleef & Arpels. Ever since Nicolas Bos of Van Cleef allowed me to snoop round his ateliers off the Place Vendôme, I have been excited by the technical exigence and creative artistry of their stuff. To be fair, I did have one or two vintage pieces of Van Cleef already: a pair of 1950s cufflinks given to me by my wife, and a Zodiac pendant and belt buckle dating from the 1970s given to me by me.

But as Nicolas and I are collaborating on a book, I have been seeing a lot more of his jewellery lately and I was transfixed by a necklace depicting a group of penguins jumping off an “iceberg” comprising a stonking aquamarine cut in such a way as to make it seem that the penguins were in fact abstract projections of the inner brilliance of the stone leaping out towards the viewer. As yet I have not figured out how I could wear such a piece – for a start, it would make holes in my shirtfront – but given that I saw a man on the beach last summer wearing a large art deco jade or nephrite pendant from Cartier, my concern is of course that I too will start sporting such large pieces and will render myself and my family destitute (necessitating us to sleep on the beach).