In the Diamond Mind: Antony Lindsay
A conversation with Antony Lindsay, Managing Director, FabergéBy Heidi Garnett, Writer and Co-Founder of Gem X @heidielizabethgarnett |
Business and making are often separate disciplines in jewelry, so it might surprise you that the managing director of Fabergé started his career as a bench jeweler. Almost exactly ten years ago, Antony Lindsay joined Fabergé and discovered that his passion for art applies equally to creating jewelry and to business – which he calls an art form of its own. Still, his training as a bench jeweler and deep respect for craftsmanship were evident throughout our conversation.
For example, what excites Antony most today is the creation of the next Fabergé Imperial egg. As those familiar with Fabergé history know, the statement is about more than the present-day design of one spectacular egg, and cracking its significance requires a trip back in time to the lavish courts of the Russian czars and the workshop of their greatest jeweler. The Imperial eggs kept coming up during my conversation with Antony and I suspect they will continue to inspire him for years to come.
What’s the story of your first diamond?
My father was a master craftsman who manufactured fine jewelry for some of the most prestigious jewelry houses in London. During school holidays, I spent days with my two brothers at his shop or manufacturing facility. The memories of spending time there are so vivid, I can still smell that distinctive scent of materials like metal being cut. There, I was mesmerized by the sparkling diamonds being mounted into jewelry. Those were my first diamonds.
What excites you most at the moment?
The road ahead. I believe good times lie in wait for our industry. Post the current pandemic, I believe the desire to celebrate life, feel good about oneself and wear that ostentatious item of jewelry will be strong. History clearly shows us that personal adornment, and in particular the wearing of jewelry, is a timeless and special tradition that is deeply ingrained within our very existence.
Do you know about the Fabergé Imperial Easter eggs? The House of Fabergé created 50 exquisite Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial family between 1885 to 1916. The creations are inextricably linked to the glory of the last Romanov family. It is a tradition we have revived, most recently working with Rolls-Royce in 2018 to create the extraordinary Spirit of Ecstasy egg. We are working on another creation and while I do not want to ruin the surprise, watch this space.
What is your intention for the year ahead?
Embrace change, be bold and stay true to our company values. The world is changing and I see an opportunity to reinvest luxury with a sense of wonder, anticipation and discovery. Fabergé is a member of the Gemfields Group, so sustainability and responsible sourcing practices are close to our hearts and very much feature in our plans.
What’s your greatest indulgence?
Family time (my second son is on the way as we speak), golf and good food (in that order).
What diamond destination is at the top of your list?
I still need to see the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian Institution. I have been fortunate enough to handle more rare jewels than most Russian czars during their lifetimes. Even so, seeing the Hope Diamond is at the top of my list, both for its beauty as well as its rich, illustrious history.
What inspired you to pursue a career in jewelry?
I wanted to follow in my late father’s footsteps. As mentioned earlier, he was a master craftsman who manufactured fine jewelry. After university, I began an apprenticeship with my father as a bench jeweler. One day he got a call from one of the jewelry houses he worked with, David Morris. They were looking for an apprentice and my father thought it would be a good opportunity for me. He essentially fired me so I would take the job.
I made jewelry for years, and actually received second place in the Goldsmith Design Awards, but became increasingly fascinated by the business side. One day I had the opportunity to meet with Sean Gilbertson, CEO of Gemfields, which had recently acquired Fabergé. The purchase was the bargain of the century, he said. He wanted to restore the brand to its former glory and believed it should be celebrated for generations to come. He offered me a job helping him.
That was almost ten years ago. I never looked back after making the shift from bench jeweler to business leader. I have always loved art and the art of business. Building partnerships and relationships excites me greatly. I am a firm believer in the power and good of collaboration. I am also honoured and inspired by being charged with writing the next chapter in the history of Fabergé, a name synonymous with luxury and a name that simply must be celebrated for many generations to come. I hope that one day jewelry historians will look back and view this period in time as a renaissance for one of the most celebrated names in jewelry.
What moment still blows your mind?
In May 2011, I visited the Vatican in Rome to see nine Fabergé Imperial eggs, the largest collection of Imperial eggs today, on display. Of the 50 Imperial eggs mentioned earlier, only 33 are accounted for today and many are owned by members of royal families, like Queen Elizabeth, Prince Albert II of Monaco and the royal family of Qatar. The collection, owned by a businessman in Russia, is breath-taking..
What life lesson has been the hardest earned, and taught you the most?
I feel blessed. There have been hurdles and bumps throughout my life, but they have all been overcome through focus and hard work. I come from humble beginnings and in school I was not a great academic. In fact, quite the opposite. However, I have always had a thirst for knowledge and worked hard, which has brought me to where I am today.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be bold and reach for the stars. When young, I would have been surprised to hear that I would be successful in business. And here I am. Also, honesty is mission critical to reaching and exceeding your ambitions and goals in life.
What’s next for diamonds?
Diamonds are a celebration of life and with that our values. The diamond industry, with the entire jewelry industry, must champion responsible sourcing and supply practices. That is the future and what is next for diamonds.