Within the royal London residence of Clarence House there was once a guarded walk-in vault lined with many of the world’s finest jewels. Their owner, the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia had received gifts of diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds from her father Tsar Alexander II and husband Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and she chose to arrange them by colour. Resting on velvet-lined shelves in glass-fronted cabinets, the overall impact of the jewels can only be imagined.
“Every design is unique and starts with the stone,” explains Creative Director, Sara Prentice. “We work with our gemmologists to choose the finest, most remarkable gemstones only when we have the stone do we then decide how best to bring out its cut, colour and clarity.”
A pigeon blood ruby, royal blue sapphire or striking Colombian emerald sits at the heart of each jewel, showcasing the best in Garrard’s craftsmanship and creativity. “Every stone is different in size, cut and setting, which means no design is replicated, these jewels are truly one of a kind,” adds Head of Design, Claire Scott.
Just like its royal antecedent, the Jewelled Vault is evolving over time. Recent additions include rings featuring two rare, unheated rubies and an 8.08-carat cushion cut sapphire. These oval-shaped stones bring a welcome opportunity to explore the cluster setting: a classic Garrard motif used to great effect in the sapphire brooch given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1843 and again in the Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement ring. Its effect is enhanced here through the introduction of thread set surrounds, which add a further level of detail in their lines of tiny round white diamonds.
The Jewelled Vault is, above all, a celebration of colour and several stones have been highlighted through the application of additional colour in these designs. “We’ve used a calibre cut for the surround stones in the cushion ruby and emerald rings,” says Claire. “This cut creates a continuous line of colour which heightens the stone’s intensity and impact.”
Other signature touches include the removable jacket on an emerald ring, which creates choices for how it’s worn, and the use of knife bars first seen in Garrard’s extraordinary Cullinan V brooch, designed for Queen Mary in 1911, which now appear in a pair of ruby oval earrings.
“As the Jewelled Vault evolves we’re finding new and exciting ways to explore classic Garrard signatures. It means that not only are these jewels unique, they’re uniquely Garrard, and that’s something we’re really proud of”, says Sara.
As the Jewelled Vault evolves we’re finding new and exciting ways to explore classic Garrard signatures. Sara Prentice Creative Director