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Keeping it in the family

As jewellers go, Boodles is special. In a world that at times seems bedazzled by bling, this understated British firm has its eyes on the real prize: beauty

Yasmin and Amber Le Bon in Boodles’ Wonderland Collection
Yasmin and Amber Le Bon in Boodles’ Wonderland Collection

Founded in Liverpool in 1798 – yes, it has been in business for 221 years – Boodles prides itself on making remarkable jewellery that’s enchanting to wear and to look at. So enchanting, in fact, that one special piece – the Raindance ring – has found a spot in the V&A’s permanent jewellery exhibition, where it epitomises “iconic British jewellery design”.

The Boodles campaign featuring Ashoka
The Boodles campaign featuring Ashoka

Over the course of six generations the company’s owners, the Wainwright family, have ignored fads and fashions and focused on what they do best: creating breathtaking jewellery that prizes creativity and craftsmanship above mere carat weight. And although they have plenty to impress the highest of high-end customers – a point made well in Channel Four’s behind-the-scenes film about Boodles, The Million Pound Necklace – they’re also refreshingly down-to-earth. Walking into one of the showrooms is like being welcomed by a friend; there’s none of the stuffiness and standing to attention that some of their rivals seem to think clients prefer. 

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This comes from the brand’s strong sense of family. Not only has Boodles been run by the Wainwrights for six generations, there are two generations of Wainwrights working there right now: Michael Wainwright is managing director; his elder brother Nicholas is chairman; Nicholas’s son Jody is director of precious gemstones; and Jody’s cousin James is director of marketing. All four are carefully nurturing the legacy handed down to them by the late Anthony Wainwright, Nicholas and Michael’s father.

The Tide necklace
The Tide necklace

Family first 

Wonderland: Always a Story: A Love Letter to Venice
Wonderland: Always a Story: A Love Letter to Venice

The feeling that Boodles is a family company comes through in everything it does – and helps explain its reputation for fabulous service. No request is ever too much – something that’s earned the esteem of everyone from A-List celebrities to the likes of yours truly. And if you talk to anyone who works there you’ll very likely hear the same thing: being here feels like being part of a family. This isn’t some heavily drilled corporate mantra: it comes from working in an environment where Nicholas, Michael, Jody and James understand that nothing beats the personal touch.

Yasmin and Amber Le Bon wear Chalk Streams
Yasmin and Amber Le Bon wear Chalk Streams

This deeply held conviction is what inspired the idea for their latest campaign – touching upon family and jewellery’s special place in it — with two members of a well-known family: the iconic British supermodel Yasmin Le Bon and her eldest daughter Amber, a DJ and model in her own right. Conveyed through the campaign is a strong sense of the importance of jewellery in creating memories and telling stories. Yasmin says, “Jewellery needs to be worn; it needs to have a life; you need to give it a tale to tell.” And Amber agrees that “Memories and jewellery go hand in hand together.” 

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The images depict mother and daughter looking beautifully at ease while wearing new pieces designed to highlight the brand’s soft-pink, ultra-feminine tones. Collections featured in the ads include Chalk Streams, which sees white diamonds and platinum being woven together to conjure images of the flora found in these clear and peculiarly British habitats. Another collection, Tide, is named after a woodcut by landscape artist Paul Nash. Throughout the suite, rhythmic diamond patterns echo the impression left on sand as waves gradually roll in. There’s a sense of sky and ocean converging, perhaps stopped only by a slim headland.

Also featured in the campaign are jewellery pieces from Be Boodles, where the capital “B” of the company’s name becomes an abstract and feminine motif. Delicate shapes set the tone, their soft curves and openwork patterns taking a cue from antique lace. Lace informs the colours here, too, with the neutral tones we associate with that fabric coming through in white-diamond designs. This is offset using classic rose gold, in a colour combination much loved by the brand over past decades.

You’ll also spot a glimpse of Ashoka – the marvellous, scene-stealing cut that Boodles is rightfully known for. No one else in Britain offers this styling: impactful yet unostentatious; elegant, while packing some oomph. It really is a “wow” of a diamond, and certainly one to treasure through the generations.

To find out more about the pieces mentioned in this article visit Boodles.com.

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