The first collaboration between British jeweller Stephen Webster and artist Tracey Emin – a jewellery collection that has just launched on Net-a-Porter – seems so natural that it feels as though they have been working together for years. Not so, but the pair have known each other for most of a lifetime: they met nearly 40 years ago as teenagers at a Margate disco, although it was another 20 years before they became great friends.
Both have made their names on the rock- and punk-inspired edge of their respective arts, but this project originated amid Beverly Hills glamour, a long way from Margate. When Webster opened his Beverly Hills store in 2010, Emin gave him one of her signature “handwritten” neon signs as part of the display. It reads “I Promise to Love You” inside a heart – she felt it was appropriate for a store where people buy wedding and engagement rings. The sign is now the name of the newjewellerycollection(from £400), which will also arrive at Harrods and Selfridges on Wednesday February 10.
Almost entirely in 18ct gold, the collection varies from straightforward chain bracelets with handwritten “Love” slogans (£800 for polished gold; with diamonds, £1,400), via quirky owl, cat or hare charms (£400, fourth picture) taken from Emin’s sketches, to clever designs that blend jewellery and art. Mismatching diamond earrings (£2,800, second picture) have one “Love” stud and one “X” stud, while an ear-climber (either with diamonds, £4,200, or plain, £1,500) reads “More Passion” (first picture), written like a dancing scribble – a private message to the recipient, and an intriguing puzzle for the onlooker.
A few of the delicate charms conceal some cheeky eroticism: on superficially traditional charm bracelets (£3,300), the “branch” that a sweet little bird sits on is anything but your usual foliage bearer. Bold “More Passion” black resin (£3,750, fifth picture) or silver (£4,150) cuffs with gold-set diamonds are perhaps the grandest pieces. Meanwhile, a bangle (£19,000, third picture) – proudly set with diamonds and a hand-engraved “I Promise To Love You” inside – looks set to become the new Love bangle for 2016.
“There are very few people who can work with magic and make it become something real,” says Emin in the foreword to Webster’s new book, Goldstruck. “For years we have talked about combining our creative talents and now we are finally doing it.” Many jewellery fans will be very glad they have.