Today’s post is a dream come true for me, as we are meeting Andrew Prince - the jewellery designer who puts the sparkle and brilliance into our favourite Downton Abbey:
For those of you who are not yet familiar with it, Downton Abbey is a tv-series set in a (fictional) Yorkshire country house called Downton Abbey. We are following the lives of the aristocratic family Crawley and their servants during the reign of King George V, and as you can imagine. every episode brings us the most stunning outfits, jewellery and intrigues. In the midst of all this style and elegance is Andrew Prince, who started working his magic on the jewellery in the third series.
The beautiful Lady Rose in an Andrew Prince necklace. The other stars also wearing some of Andrew’s creations. Copyright: Carnival Films
Andrew, what was the first piece of jewellery that you ever designed?
The first piece I ever made was a ring for my grandmother out of wire when I was 3. It gave her a rash and she still has the piece. A few years later I made a necklace for my mother using the embellishments from her wedding dress. She was not happy.
Maggie Smith wearing jewellery designed by Andrew Prince Copyright: Carnival Films
What do you do for Downton Abbey?
I did the majority of the major pieces, especially for Maggie Smith (Lady Violet Crawley in the series); the tiaras and mainly the impact pieces. I also do many of Lady Cora Crawley’s jewellery (played by Elizabeth McGovern) and in total I have made about 40-50 pieces for them.
Mysore Tiara by Andrew Prince for Downton Abbey
When did you start designing for them?
Caroline McCall the costume designer contacted me to work on the third series. I always try to ensure that the pieces are absolutely correct for the characters, as it is vital to get it right in such an important tv-series.
Pendant earrings by Andrew Prince for Downton Abbey
Have you visited the set of Downton?
Yes I have and visiting the set makes you realise just how much work is being put in. Being there is certainly interesting and seeing the jewellery and the costumes together is always thrilling, not to mention how lovely the stars are in real life.
Wide Scroll Choker Flat by Andrew Prince for Downton Abbey
What piece of jewellery has been your favourite one to design?
One of the biggest pieces that I ever made and it was something that I had in mind for years! It was made out pearls and crystals and draped down the back. Surprisingly it sold to a lady who was just under 5 foot (150cm) but it looked magnificent on her!
Large drop back jewel necklace by Andrew Prince
People in the industry who have worked with Andrew keep praising the historic accuracy of his designs, and whenever I have a very specific question about antique jewellery my colleagues always say that I must ask Andrew, as he is like a “walking encyclopedia of antique jewellery”!
A crystal encrusted comb by Andrew Prince
Also, as quoted on Andrew’s website: “He realised that beautiful jewellery didn’t require expensive stones, and that it was the elegance of the design and the quality of the workmanship that truly mattered.” And it really is such a treat to be able to buy the most exquisite pieces of jewellery, knowing that they are all within our price range (the medium sized earrings are all under £100 and wedding tiaras tend to cost between £220-£450).
Video: Television Costume Design – Andrew Prince
If you click on the link above and go to the third video from the top, you will see a clip of Andrew talking us through some of the Downton Abbey costume designs – and I just love how passionate he is about the subject of jewellery design!
I may have managed to get my hands on some of Andrew’s crystal tiara’s at Richard Ogden…
The other day I was able to have a play around with a few of Andrew’s tiaras at Richard Ogden in Burlington Arcade, and as you can imagine I was in jewellery heaven! Now all the tiaras, hair accessories and special pieces are all still made by Andrew himself; he meets clients individually to discuss the pieces, which then allows him to fit the jewellery perfectly. Smaller pieces are mostly created in his two workshops, and he oversees the creation of them all to make sure that they achieve his exacting standards.
A selection of Andrew Prince’s Jewellery Collection Copyright: Sophie Mutevelian
Andrew’s pieces have also been worn by celebrities like Michael Jackson (a large crystal and pearl shoulder jewel) and Shirley Bassey (necklaces). For all of you Swedish readers it might be fun to know that Countess de Gunzburg Backman wore one of Andrew’s tiaras to Crown Princess Victoria’s wedding.
You can see all of Andrew Prince’s beautiful pieces on his website: Andrew Prince – fine crystal jewellery.