One of the many Garrard tiaras commissioned by the British royal family is is the York Diamond Tiara, originally designed by Garrard in 1986 for Sarah, Duchess of York. The bespoke creation features swirls of foliate diamond scrolls, which are punctuated by round white diamonds before rising to a peak at the centre. From stone and metal come a sense of movement and grace that speak eloquently for the power of bespoke.
“The process is an opportunity to explore colour, proportion and style, and develop a uniquely personal creation,” says Sara Prentice, Creative Director. “It’s no wonder bespoke jewels bring added meaning to events like a wedding.”
The York Diamond Tiara is one of many bespoke royal jewels created by Garrard to have been passed down through the generations. Among the best known is the sapphire brooch, given by Prince Albert to his bride Queen Victoria in 1840, and frequently worn by Queen Elizabeth II.
Albert was greatly involved in its creation, as was his son Edward, Prince of Wales when he commissioned a wedding gift for his future wife, Princess Alexandra. His request was for a magnificent parure: a set of matching jewels which included tiara, necklace, earrings and brooch all in white diamonds, with pearls used as highlights. Most of the set can be seen in an early photograph of their wedding in 1863, and individual pieces have graced many royal appearances in the years that have followed.
“Increasingly we’re seeing women choose to wear their precious jewellery in more everyday situations,” says Claire Scott, Head of Design. “Wearability is a key part of the bespoke design process. We think about how and when a jewel will be worn, and look at creating choices too, with tiaras that include detachable pendants for example.”
A conversation about ideas and inspiration is often the starting point for a bespoke commission. These are explored in a hand-drawn sketch. “I always start with a pen in hand, because you get a better understanding of proportion and balance this way,” says Claire
This sketch is then transferred into a line drawing, which is painted with gouache and watercolour and annotated with details about the stone, size and setting. Models might be made in wax or silver, and fittings arranged. “There are many stages we can go through, depending on the nature of the piece,” says Sara. “Our end goal is always the same, to create a one-off, timeless design that will be worn with pleasure and pride.”
Our end goal is always the same, to create a one-off, timeless design that will be worn with pleasure and pride. Sara Prentice Creative Director