It’s a skilled job and the stakes are high – but no challenge is too large for the duo in charge of jewellery design at William & Son, who artfully create unique pieces for the world’s most refined customers.
Founded almost two decades ago, William & Son may be a relative newcomer to London’s luxury goods market, but in that short space of time, the company has successfully cemented its status as a family-owned jewellery brand.
The Mayfair boutique attracts a local and international clientele who return for its unparalleled offering of a truly bespoke service. This service draws on the rare creative chemistry between William & Son’s head of jewellery, Clémence Devaux, and the head jewellery designer, Nicola Sanderson.
“We have a special connection that is really indescribable,” says Clémence, who joined the company almost six years ago, while Nicola has been there for 15. Clémence quickly discovered that their skills were perfectly complementing each other which allowed their working relationship to flourish.
“I trained as a gemologist,” explains Clémence, “and so what I don’t have, she [Nicola] has. What she doesn’t have, I have.” This balance means that the duo form the ultimate bespoke jewellery crafting team.
How it works
Clémence will meet with prospective clients – often men seeking to commission engagement rings – to discuss their requirements and offer her know-how, before discussing it with Nicola, who will then draft several designs.
Unlike many other brands offering a custom-made jewellery service, William & Son does not charge for the time taken to design a piece. For an engagement ring, depending on what the client has in mind, designs take two to three weeks to be sketched. Once it has been approved, the turnaround for production takes only four to six weeks.
Clémence commissions workshops in the east end of the capital that have worked with the ancestors of William & Son’s founder [William Asprey] for more than 150 years.
“The English workshops make something solid, elegant and more durable in time” explains Clémence, who has access to a network of specialist makers around the world.
The Mayfair boutique department store features a “gem bar” with an exclusive selection of loose, precious stones to whet clients’ appetite, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We have the capabilities of going from zero to something entirely based on our customers’ wishes,” says Clémence. “Because we design it, there will be the William & Son interpretation, but ultimately, it will be a completely unique piece.”
The personal touch
It is not unusual for the jewellery duo to travel to clients’ homes abroad to work on projects; after all, there is only one William & Son store in the world.
This fierce client loyalty means Clémence and Nicola often get to collaborate with several generations of the same family. “We want to be their family jeweller; we want to be the ones they trust and return to; we build relationships for the long run,” says an impassioned Clémence.
The brand is also one of the rare luxury jeweller to work with family heirlooms to reinterpret a piece of jewellery. The team can re-model pieces to give them a second life – be it an engagement ring to celebrate an anniversary, or the re-working of an inherited piece such as a pearl necklace.
Recently, they were commissioned to design an entire bridal suite, which consisted of necklaces, bracelets and earrings, and for which many options were required at short notice. “It was a beautiful project, definitely challenging, but it’s always such an honour when clients choose William & Son and trust our expertise for something so special that they will remember all their lives” says Nicola.
The duo works all year long on William & Son jewellery collections but what they really enjoy when it comes to custom-made jewellery is the personal aspect of each project, especially when it concerns that all- important engagement ring.
“You hear all about ‘her’ through him, and then they come in for wedding bands so eventually you get to know her more,” says Clémence. She asks questions as to what sort of personality and tastes a partner has to get an understanding of what sort of jewellery she might like.
“Men are always so worried that they think she is going to say no” says Clémence. So, has she ever created a ring that’s been turned down? “I’ve never seen it happen” she confirms, reassuringly.
This series of Telegraph articles, brought to you by William & Son, explores the fine traditions British craftsmanship in leather, jewellery and other luxury goods.
Definitively British, William & Son has established itself as the most distinctive of luxury-goods companies. The firm excels in bespoke, will accept any brief and will strive to fulfil it.