East London and Pall Mall, a fashionable young designer and an antiques dealer who specialises in 18th-century estate gems (topped off with bears, claws and fur) – hardly the typical ingredients for a design collaboration, but the combination is one that works brilliantly in the realisation of an exciting new jewellery line.
Fur & Claw is the first joint collection by Bear Brooksbank and Humphrey Butler – the former being the hip designer, the latter the venerable dealer who spent two decades at Christie’s and Sotheby’s before setting up on his own. Brooksbank apprenticed with Butler for five years before turning her hand to contemporary jewellery design, founding her eponymous brand in 2012, with a focus on bespoke work.
The pieces are cool and contemporary, with a subtle ursine theme (“Bear” being a childhood name that stuck, and fur and claw motifs being a hallmark of Brooksbank’s work). The collection is split into couture and ready-to-wear, all fashioned from 18ct gold.
Of the couture collection (from £3,750), comprising three designs limited to five pieces, the hero creation is the fabulous Bear Claw cuff (first picture) with black diamond pavé and a bespoke clasp that clicks into place. Equally rock ’n’ roll are the ear cuffs (second picture) topped and tailed with pavé black diamonds, and the edgy Bear Claw ring that’s centred on an inverted 4.98ct black diamond.
Sixteen pieces make up the ready-to-wear line, which includes stackable rings (from £350) and hoop earrings (£750 each) in yellow or rose gold, and which come etched with a bear-claw pattern. A pair of Open Circle Fur ear studs (£500) is chic and versatile, while pendants (in three designs: open, £1,000; closed, £1,450, both in third picture; and closed with black diamonds, £1,750) feature an adjustable chain – via a miniature bear charm – and can be personalised and engraved.
The two distinct lines seek to marry the clientele of Brooksbank and Butler. “Some people might find it an unusual collaboration,” says Brooksbank. “Our clients are in completely different age groups, and Humphrey is nearly twice my age. But we get on really well, and the collection just feels personal.”