Classically trained for over 13 years in London’s renowned Hatton Gardens jewellery and diamond quarter, designer Shaun Leane has created a unique niche brand of fine jewelry, bespoke projects and conceptual collaborations which leverage not only centuries old skills and techniques, but a highly modern and visionary approach to design. His lines are fluid, unadulterated, and pure, yet there is an organic lushness to the sobriety; each piece anchored in a refusal to be a vacuous exercise in simplicity or minimalism.
Meeting Shaun for the first time, I was struck by his approachability, the lack of ego, and the sincere pride that beamed from the designer’s eyes as he spoke of his craft and experience. You can sense immediately that the design process is a very personal journey for Shaun and rather than creating or designing a piece of jewelry, he nurtures the raw materials into their final form. This approach, which Shaun refers to as his “signature” was developed over his 17 year collaboration with famed fashion designer, Alexander McQueen. Intrigued and impressed by the level of detail and perfection in his work, McQueen commissioned Shaun to create bespoke creations for his runway presentations. He challenged the classic goldsmith whose experience was focused on antique jewelry restoration into exploring new materials, new methods, and more importantly to contemplate the concepts of mass, volume, weight, and containment. That exercise in pushing boundaries and voyaging out of the proverbial comfort zone liberated Shaun’s inner voice and eventually led to not only the creation of a cultural imprint of exceptional and thought-provoking runway accessories, but also one of today’s most revered contemporary fine jewelry collections.
Shaun continues this creative dialogue between with iconic personalities such as Daphne Guinness who commissioned him to create a highly bespoke gauntlet glove. Taking five years to create, the piece is made up of more than a thousand grams of gold and is set with over 5,000 pavé white diamonds. Striking diamond birds cascade around the arm, as though caught in mid-flight. The hand is protected with a bold metal cuff, hand-forged and beautifully engraved. Made in two parts, the cuff can be worn alone as a hand glove, or extended into an evening glove. Every detail in the piece, including the chainmail, was carefully constructed by hand to ensure a perfectly moulded fit to Ms. Guinness’ arm.
“I admire the past masters who – with their style and craftsmanship – created fine jewelry that was distinctive of its time. I like to fuse elements of tradition with a contemporary design approach. We cannot look to the future of design without remembering our past.” -Shaun Leane
There is also a commercial side to Mr. Leane’s design philosophy, but the line between commerciality and design integrity are so artfully woven that each piece has bespoke status despite being available in a growing number of fine retailers as well as via his online store. From sumptuously modern wedding rings to bejeweled clusters reflecting the ethereal lights of the aurora borealis, masculine bracelets inspired by the intricate and geometric perfection of a serpent’s spine to the delicate and beguiling purity of a cherry blossom, Shaun’s boutique collection stands testament to his classic design principles and his mastery at the manipulation of the world’s finest and rarest materials. A recurrent theme found within the collection, for both men and women, is his flawlessly elegant sabre which finds itself studded with amethyst, slotted in the leather wrappings of a bracelet, or in its pure form, cascading elegantly from the ear of one of his loyal clients. These pieces go beyond adornment for adornment’s sake and can be seen more as three dimensional poetry rather than just fine jewelry. For those clients seeking a more personal journey, Shaun also provides a completely bespoke creation experience to allow clients not only choose the materials and basic design elements, but collaborate with Shaun to develop conceptual pieces that embody or reflect a special moment or cherished memory.