An artist and an architect bejewelled

Tracey Emin and Zaha Hadid add some selling sparkle

Fashion and art have long shared a rich symbiosis, with fashion designers and artists collaborating on one-of-a-kind collections from apparel to accessories.

Now jewellers are getting in on the art-world action. The London-based jeweller Stephen Webster and British artist Tracey Emin are presenting a Valentine’s Day collection, and just before the Baselworld trade fair in March, Danish marque Georg Jensen and the architect Dame Zaha Hadid will unveil their own collaboration.

Such alliances underline the growing presence of brands in the jewellery industry. According to consultancy McKinsey, brands comprise only 20 per cent of the jewellery market – however, this figure is “shifting rapidly”, says McKinsey’s Nathalie Remy. The consultancy estimates that the share could reach 40 per cent by 2020. “More brands are acting in the jewellery space, and as these names become bigger, the issue of branding becomes more prevalent,” says Ms Remy.

Mr Webster and Ms Emin’s collaboration – I Promise to Love You – is a 50-strong collection of rings, pendants, bracelets and cuffs, drop earrings and ear cuffs, cufflinks and a tie pin. Appearing on the luxury online retailer Net-A-Porter on January 20, the collection will then move to Stephen Webster stores and Harrods from February 10. It is the first collaboration of its kind for both Mr Webster and Ms Emin. The two have been friends for 40 years, and collect each other’s work.

“The collection really represents both our worlds,” says Mr Webster. Set in 18-carat gold and in Mr Webster’s signature rock’n’roll, rebellious style, the pieces pay homage to Ms Emin’s best-known creations, such as the neon slogans.

“There is something in Tracey’s work that is so fundamental to jewellery,” he says. “So much of it is about commitment, marking occasion and emotions. That has always been the basis of jewellery, and Tracey’s work is all about that.”

Dame Zaha Hadid’s Celeste necklace collaboration with Swarovski

Also unmistakably Emin are the figurative woodland animals, including a hare, owl, toad, badger and bird, which make their way into Mr Webster’s yellow gold necklaces, pendants and a charm bracelet.

Ms Emin, who chose all the creatures, explains: “I wanted English animals. My ancestors were forest gypsies and I wanted to work with this idea.”

Getting the creatures to “look and feel right” took some time, adds Mr Webster. “I had to take something in pen and ink and – using all my 40 years of jewellery experience – make it in gold.”

The two years it took to complete the collection were not without anxiety. “When I showed Tracey the first pieces I was as nervous as if she were a big-shot client,” says Mr Webster. “I’ve basically got someone else’s work, and you want to feel you’ve executed it in a way that the original creator would.”

Ms Emin adds that the collaboration “makes perfect sense as Stephen and I are such good friends. The whole process has been a pleasure.”

The gems are priced notably lower than Mr Webster’s best-selling collections – among them Lady Stardust, Magnipheasant and Fly By Night. But I Promise to Love You is meant to be accessible to Mr Webster’s clients and to Ms Emin’s “fans”, namely younger women. While more substantial, diamond pavé pieces will appeal to Mr Webster’s existing customers (and also those who can afford Ms Emin’s art), a new clientele is expected to join them.

Also teaming up with an art-world darling is Georg Jensen, which will launch a collaboration with Dame Zaha at Basel. This follows similar collaborations by the Danish marque, in particular a butterfly-themed collection with jeweller Jordan Askill last October and a silver tea set with the Apple designer Marc Newson in November.

Ms Remy at McKinsey says that often such collaborations are intended to “inject a bit of different artistic content” into brands, to be perceived as “either more modern or creative”. The 110-year-old Georg Jensen, which was bought by Investcorp in 2012, says it wishes to attract a “younger, cooler audience”.

Alliances with famous names seem to be a move in that direction. Such partnerships must also be a win-win, adds Ms Remy. “Especially when it’s with a designer who is putting his or her own name on the market. The benefit is increased visibility, attractiveness and momentum.”

Dame Zaha, who recently became the first woman to receive a Royal Institute of British Architects gold medal, will raise her profile. And, as past jewellery collaborations have shown, Dame Zaha is a fan of the art. There have been two stints with Swarovski: the first in 2008 for the blackened silver and precious stone Celeste necklace and cuff, followed by the Glace collection inspired by Swarovski’s precious-cut crystals.

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