British jewelry designer Shaun Leane is one of those enviable well-heeled men who appears at ease and comfortable in a tailored three-piece suit, and, of course, with layers of distinctive and personal diamond jewelry pieces. Trained as a bench jeweler, the designer and judge on BBC Two’s jewelry designer competition series All That Glitters is known for his contemporary, sculptural and slightly edgy diamond jewelry designs—and his impeccable personal style. Here, the boyish looking 51-year-old shares his style tips for making men’s jewelry an essential part of every man’s wardrobe.
What are your go-to jewelry pieces that you wear every day?
Shaun Leane: One is a bracelet I crafted for myself from our Memoirs Collection. It touches on the sentiment of past Victorian works, where the jewel contains a lock of a loved one’s hair. I wear this every day and it is one of the most personal pieces. The second is a ring that I recently made to celebrate a significant part of my life: I crafted an 18 karat rose gold, onyx and black diamond seal ring engraved with an eagle in flight and with the Latin words Vita Nova, which means new life. For me, creating such jewels for myself and others demonstrates the beautiful emotional attachment we can have to our jewels.
How do you like to style your jewels?
SL: I wear a stack of bracelets and bangles everyday which are a mix of materials and textures. I use leather to thread between the different styles and textures of gold to create a contrast and depth. I wear my stack topped with one of my watches, but being quite classically old-fashioned, the watch must be the same color metal as the bangles. What is so appealing about bangles is the diversity in style and symbolism, which can reflect where I am at that particular time both physically and mentally.
How do you tell a story with jewelry?
SL: I like to create and wear jewelry that is romantic and explores human emotions, whether it be joy, love or pain; these are all the sides of romance in my opinion.
What advice do you give clients about how to freshen up their look with jewelry?
SL: My clients collect all types of jewelry from Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels to vintage jewelry. They always seem to add a Shaun Leane piece to freshen up their look and bring that contemporary feel and daring aesthetic. It almost brings the vintage to the current and the contemporary.
Whose jewelry style do you love and why?
SL: Queen Elizabeth. The breadth of jewelry she owns covers so many eras in history that the jewels themselves would be a documentation of trends and innovation in craft. I’m certain the Queen’s jewelry box would contain some of the most beautiful gems the world could ever want to see.
Are you superstitious with your jewelry?
SL: Yes! Every day I wear a hidden charm necklace, made up of a combination of spiritual charms that I have collected across the world. It’s very private and only ever worn under my shirt. The necklace includes an 18 karat gold Maltese cross, an antique carved brass Buddha, and a one carat pear-shaped diamond which portrays light, all hung on a leather cord. These charms I hold close to me, they have traveled the world with me and give me a sense of protection.
What’s your favorite clothing style to wear with jewelry?
SL: A suit is the perfect canvas for a man to wear jewels that reflect his persona. When wearing jewels with a suit, it allows a man to stand out against other suited men and creates a point of difference, a reflection of the individual. A fine tailored suit is a conversation piece, but a bejeweled fine tailored suit is far greater, always demanding intrigue and conversation.
You have such a relaxed and easy-going style. How does jewelry set your image?
SL: Jewelry has many connotations—classic, contemporary and even spiritual. The diverse styles of jewelry can portray a person in many of these ways; even mixing the above shows a certain experimental side to a person, creating layers of interest and intrigue.