5 Minutes with... Private Jeweller, John Lloyd Morgan
I first became interested in jewellery
when I left university and was in a very unhappy job in the Commodity Markets.
I was in hospital having my wisdom teeth dealt with and my wise mum said
"Well, you obviously aren't fascinated in the rubber market (which I was
in), what are you going to do?" I mumbled through my sore mouth that I was
quite keen on stones and so phone calls were made and meetings organised and I
was given my first job at Collingwood in Conduit Street in 1979. I was given no
formal training as such but just sat and watched the masters. And had the huge
pleasure of handling fabulous jewellery and dealing with the very top of
English society and their jewels.
Why did you set up your own business?
After working for a number of different
jewellery houses in the West End, I ended up as Head of Jewellery at Asprey's,
after it had been bought by Prince Jeffri of Brunei from the Asprey family. A
crazy and exciting time but I realised that I wasn't a corporate player and
just wanted to look after clients and their needs - whatever they might be. So,
in 2000 I started out of my own. And I had started going to India for holidays
and was falling in love with Indian colours and craftsmanship and had lots of
designs that had been bubbling away made up in workshops there. Always
colourful, rarely using diamonds, but using edible looking, semi-precious stones in
rich matt gold settings. Jewellery which makes you smile and need not be kept
in a safe.
What is a Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company?
Being a Freeman of the Goldsmiths' Company is
a huge privilege. The Company was founded in 1327 and supports the jewellery
industry and the craftsmen and women within that industry. It has a huge
charity side and pursues a number of educational projects. It controls the
hallmarking of every piece of gold, silver, platinum and now palladium manufactured
in the UK. And so much more.
How do you go about designing a piece of jewellery?
Designing a piece of jewellery should be
fun. If someone is brave enough to commission you to make a unique piece, then,
like an architect, a lot of talk has to be done before anything is made. The
commissioner has to know roughly what they want and, perhaps, more usefully,
what they DON'T want. The designer has to gauge what would suit the
commissioner, the budget, the preference for which stones should be used - if
any, the style of the commissioner. There is a lot of hand-holding and a lot of
prompting. But above all it should be fun. And often when a client says they
want "something different", they often come back to something fairly
safe and traditional. I don't believe in jewellery being "in fashion"
for a couple of years.
What sort of old jewellery have you redesigned to
become more wearable?
Re-designing an older piece into something
more contemporary is a two edged sword. It can feel criminal to break up a
piece - especially if it is beautifully made - but there is absolutely no point
in having a whole load of Granny's jewellery sitting in a safe. Making up new
pieces can be expensive in London and I often suggest that it can make more
sense to sell Granny's brooch and start again. I once was given a box of
incredible old pieces - only metal with all the stones removed. The diamonds
had gone into making a huge tiara ages ago and the new daughter-in-law was
given this box of metal to deal with, which was a daunting task (she also got
the tiara!). But slowly, we revived each piece, putting in a fabulous citrine
here or a wonderful synthetic sapphire there and always using imitation
diamonds which we cut specially to look like old-cut diamonds and over time,
the client made up the most fabulous collection of fun, wearable jewels. The
original metal work was of such a quality and the original diamonds had been
taken out so carefully that it was just a question of choosing inexpensive,
wearable stones to pop into the holes.
How do you work with your workshops in India when you can’t
Covid has been tough for so many people and
none more so than workshops in India. Designers from abroad, like me, haven't
been able to get there and they have had a very tough time with their own
pandemic as well as with no visitors. I find it hopeless to try and work
together on Zoom. You have to feel and almost smell the stones! So, it's been
tough and I don't have as many new pieces as I would like in the collection
but, of course, not everyone knows the whole collection so it can appear new to
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