You should put on jewellery and forget you are wearing it. Only then does it become part of you.
- Andrew Prince
Andrew Prince has created jewellery from an early age. No piece of wire was safe from being bent, twisted or threaded with beads - in fact his mother's jewellery box was permanently being raided.
In 1977 when he was six years old, Andrew's parents visited the first Fabergé exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. While looking through the catalogue, he didn't quite understand what the pieces were, who had made them and for whom they had been created. He just knew that he was captivated by their beauty, shape and detail. That catalogue soon became Andrew's favourite book, to be pulled out almost each day and gaze at the masterpieces within.
The Fabergé designs taught Andrew the importance of proportion and subtle detail, and he soon came to realise that when both are in balance, the eye flows easily across the piece. When that balance isn't achieved, the piece looks ungainly and heavy, much like a house with windows that are too small.
Proportion, of course, does not mean symmetry, it means balance. Balance of shape, line and of detail. Too much detail and your eye gets lost. Too little, and there is nothing for the eye to rest on. That book was the first in a now bulging library, containing tomes of every different style, form and shape, not just of jewellery, but of furniture, architecture, garden design, fashion and painting. It's often from the pages of these books that Andrew gets inspiration for his designs.
Four different styles have dominated Andrew's approach to jewellery - each contributing its own influences to create a single “classic” whole. These four styles are the delicate beauty of the ‘Belle Epoque’, the sinuousness of ‘Art Nouveau’, the line and strength of ‘Art Deco’ and the glamour of 1930s Hollywood. You'll find hints of all four running through his entire collection.
Superior design requires demands superior materials
When creating jewellery, Andrew only uses phosphor bronze, brass or sterling silver frames in which to set his stones. This ensures a clean, strong, smooth and highly-defined finish while remaining very light. Andrew refuses to use pewter as a base metal, as is so often found in jewellery today. Despite being easy to work with, pewter is ultimately heavy and weak. As such, it can be less comfortable to wear and not last as long. It also lacks definition, resulting in jewellery that is slightly 'lumpy' to the trained eye, with biodegrading settings and ill-fitting stones.
And the very best crystal and stones
In terms of stones, Andrew uses only the finest quality Swarovski crystal. 'There is nothing better', he insists. For pieces mounted in sterling silver, he will only use Swarovski premium quality Cubic Zirconia and synthetically created gems. Andrew often has the stones 'faceted' to his own instructions, as so many modern cuts fail to achieve the softness and proportion of the antique originals.
The tiaras, hair accessories and special pieces in his collection are all still made by Andrew himself. He prefers to meet each client individually to discuss the piece with them, allowing Andrew to fit the jewellery correctly (not easy if you haven't made the piece yourself). Smaller pieces of jewellery are mostly created in Andrew Prince's two workshops, although he oversees the creation of all pieces to ensure they achieve his exacting standards.