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From Downton to Gatsby – Jewellery and Fashion 1890 – 1929
October 9, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
The period 1890 to 1929 was a time when the great couturiers collaborated with the finest jewellers to produce outstanding jewels worn with sumptuous gowns.
Some of the most celebrated stars of stage and screen have worn jewelry by Andrew Prince: Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Miss Piggy.
Mr. Prince is probably best known for the jewelry he designed for the British television series “Downton Abbey.” But he has also added sparkle to other cinematic adventures such as “The Young Victoria” and “Muppets Most Wanted,” where Miss Piggy’s pearl necklace and diamond tiara are Mr. Prince’s handiwork, designed in his home in London’s Stepney Green and created, stone by stone, link by link, in his tiny workshop a few blocks away.
There he creates jewelry for real-life divas as well, available on his website, andrewprince.co.uk, and in New York at Bergdorf Goodman.
The boyish, 43-year-old Englishman likes to design as he sits on the floor of his compact apartment, in the gentrifying East End. He has decorated his home like a mini-manor house, with powder blue settees and crystal chandeliers: And books — lots of them — piled on the floor and stuffed into gilded mahogany bookcases made to his own design.
Mr. Prince’s knowledge of jewelry is so extensive that he has lectured at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. “You can tell what I am thinking by the books that are on top” of the pile, he said in an interview. This summer, it is a tome on René Lalique, the French Art Nouveau and Art Deco glass designer and jeweler.
Growing up in Germany and in Northern Ireland during the Troubles (“lots of bombs,” he recalled), Mr. Prince developed a photographic memory to compensate for dyslexia, and can now recall every page of, say, a Sotheby’s jewelry catalog by heart. He moved to London at 16 and found work as a junior apprentice at N. Bloom & Son, an antique jeweler on Conduit Street, in the fashionable West End.
“I learned on the job,” Mr. Prince said. His teacher was Ian Harris, an antiquarian silver dealer and expert on the popular British television series “Antiques Roadshow.” On quiet days, Mr. Harris would have the young apprentice close his eyes and guess what piece of jewelry he had placed in his hands by its weight and shape. He schooled him on how old a piece of platinum was by its colour. It was an education.