Most jewelry brands at present have already embraced the advanced technology and convenience that CAD offers. Some would even boast about it as a step taken towards innovation, but not Sophie Harley. It’s not about the brand refusing to move forward in terms of technological aspects like the rest; it’s about preserving the value of something made by hand.
Jewelry is unlike any other possession that can be easily disposed of or given away. It’s something intimately personal that’s taken great care of, worn with caution, admired always, and sometimes passed down to family. Sophie Harley takes this seriously by making sure everything is made by hand from the sketches to the actual pieces. This ensures the brand creates something that could be of great significance to its customers’ life.
The Algerian love knot and other commissions
You might think you don’t know Sophie Harley at all if you haven’t heard of the brand, but you’ve probably encountered one of their pieces, incidentally the most famous one, from the James Bond movie, Casino Royale.
The Algerian Love Knot necklace is the iconic piece of jewelry that holds a central purpose to the story. It was worn by Eva Green who plays Vesper Lynd as a symbol of eternal love. It would eventually surpass her character in the movie and go on to appear and even be the center of the last frame in the sequel, Quantum of Solace. The necklace comes with matching earrings, but the former was the one that catapulted Sophie Harley to international success, quickly becoming the brand’s bestselling piece to this day. A Love Knot collection was eventually put together to capture the allure of Bond movies.
Apart from Hollywood, Sophie Harley upholds its British roots in the collaboration with De Beers for which she made a winged horse brooch as the award for the Royal Ascot King George VI Stakes winner, which the Queen herself accorded.
Coming from a love of sparkly things
Sophie Harley has had over 25 years in the business of jewelry-making but it’s no bigger accomplishment to anyone than the founder herself. She started from a mere “love of sparkly things” as a kid, as you do when you’re a little girl. She finished a degree in West Surrey College of Art and Design and an MA in the Royal College of Art, but her greatest achievement is in opening up her first studio in 1990 that everything fell into place. It made the fulfillment of being the UK Jewelry Designer of the Year in 2013 that much sweeter.
Despite refusing to use the latest technology in their jewelry-making, the brand is not totally against innovation and growth. It offers an online shopping experience for their customers with surprisingly affordable selections, which also made it gain more international recognition.
That makes only a part of what the brand could deliver but the weightier half of their offerings is their bespoke jewelry. This is where the brand’s dedication to jewelry’s personal significance is evidently on show. Sophie Harley herself makes the bespoke pieces from conceptualization to the final product to put personal touches to it. Her process involves getting to know the client, their ideas, and who the jewelry is for. Between the client’s preferences, she adds secret symbols that hold deep, positive meaning relating to the client’s story.
All of Sophie Harley’s private commissions are always one-off work, rendering them the only iteration of those jewelry pieces to exist. A-list celebrities have come to Sophie Harley for her bespoke jewelry, among them are Kate Winslet and Colin Firth. Meanwhile, other Sophie Harley pieces appear on supermodels like Naomi Campbell on magazine covers, the runway, and sometimes on music videos and film.
Jewelry with precious meaning
As an extension of their bespoke service, Sophie Harley also upcycle jewelry. This process involves an old piece of jewelry that they turn into something more contemporary. This can be inherited pieces that need a little tweaking to be wearable and passed on again. With this, Sophie Harley stands by their philosophy of creating, in this case recreating, meaningful and “emotive” jewelry.
If not customized or upcycled, the brand’s collection pieces are known to integrate mysterious symbols and motifs from ancient times. The most universally relatable of them are the signature wings, symbolizing hope, and hearts for love, but sometimes, other symbols like crosses and skulls make an appearance.
The personalized quality of Sophie Harley’s pieces gives them the kind of uniqueness that’s unlike what a rare gem could offer; it’s more valuable and desirable. With this kind of approach, Sophie Harley plays an important role for many people’s lives and their pieces go on to become a family heirloom. At the very least, they’ll always have great value to make them enticing collector’s items in the future.