Prepare to be surprised as you step through the door of 34-36 Bruton Street in Mayfair.
That was the intention of founder and chairman William Asprey when he established his luxury goods brand, William & Son, in 1999. “I wanted to create a company that specialised in the surprising and the special; the eclectic and, sometimes, the extravagant,” he says.
Twenty years later, it’s safe to say he succeeded, William & Son having evolved into an extraordinary retail destination with one of London’s most celebrated and diverse collections of fine jewellery, timepieces, handcrafted leather games, leather goods, clothing and homeware – complete with a Royal Warrant.
Service with a style
Devoted, as it is, to all things eclectic, William & Son is a place where you’ll find pure cashmere knitwear sitting alongside handcrafted Grampian-leather backgammon boards and designer crystal champagne decanters. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of indulgence and originality – the ideal place for that unique gift, wedding present or statement piece for the home. And if the choice proves simply too much, there’s decades of experience waiting on hand to steer you in the right direction.
When he spoke of “special” and “surprising”, Asprey wasn’t just referring to the intriguing and high-quality product range he intended to stock – that’s just one element of the experience. The key to true luxury comes in the delivery.
“Many of our staff members have been with the company since its early days,” says Asprey. “They’re trained to the highest level and every one of them is an expert in their field. They really have helped make the company what it is today.”
This expertise extends beyond the Bruton Street store to the artists, artisans and designers that the company partners with, many of whom share William & Son’s strong British heritage. Asprey himself is a seventh-generation member of the Asprey family, and tradition, values and provenance define the company – to the extent that it has invested in a cashmere factory on the Scottish borders and a tweed factory in Corby, Northamptonshire.
Commitment to the customer experience also inspired the introduction of a completely bespoke service. This goes far beyond a standard engraving and customisation offering and invites customers to commission – and have a hand in designing – their own fine jewellery and gifts. As well as enjoying full access to the expert advice and skills of the in-house designers, clients have free run of the “gem bar” – a unique selection of precious stones that can be worked into bespoke jewellery pieces.
All that glitters…
Of its many departments, William & Son is perhaps most noted for its timepieces and more than a dozen individual jewellery collections. One of its signature styles, the aptly named London collection, was the company’s first in-house jewellery line and remains a classic choice thanks to its timeless styling. Pieces range from an 18-carat rose-gold chain bracelet with diamonds to a showpiece 18-carat white-gold and diamond necklace.
“We designed our London collection to have versatility, so many of our earrings have ‘tops’ and ‘drops’ that can be bought separately so you can mix and match,” says Sanderson. “This gives our clients more control over how they wear their jewellery, making it better value and, ultimately, more playful.”
Reflecting William & Son’s reputation for more eclectic design is the Beneath the Rose collection, which sees 18-carat white gold and rose gold set with either pink sapphires and diamonds, rubies and diamonds, or pristine white sapphires.
Ware to impress
Another area in which William & Son shines, quite literally, is silverware, earning the company a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2009.
Pieces range from classic choices such as champagne flutes and tankards – albeit with designer styling and gilded interiors – to the novel. A hallmarked sterling-silver cocktail straw is the perfect gift for the eco-conscious mojito lover, for example. And no breakfast table should be without one of the eminently stylish sterling-silver and Moser crystal “fruit drop” jam jars created by the in-house designers and with lids and spoons individually crafted by British silversmiths.
With such devotion to detail, it’s perhaps not surprising that William & Son has a dedicated following. It’s a clientele that drives the company forward. “The William & Son customer could be described as an independently minded traveller, someone who appreciates quality and craftsmanship at the highest level,” says William Asprey. “We tend to attract those with an imagination, those who want to be unique.”
It seems his words describe not only the company’s clients, but its relationship with them. Together, they’re on a journey that is dedicated to discovering the very best in life.