A vintage Aston Martin is bowling down The Mall, taking the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Clarence House.
Mounted on the car’s bonnet is a small silver dragon, a 21st birthday present from HM The Queen to HRH The Prince of Wales, created by David Morris. The dragon wasn’t David Morris’s first brush with royalty. Having graduated as a goldsmith from London’s Central School of Arts and Crafts (now part of the Central Saint Martin School of Design) in 1959, David Morris and his design partner successively claimed the ninth and tenth De Beers Diamonds International Awards.
In 1962 David Morris opened his first store in Hatton Garden and, just five years later, was commissioned by the Government of Lichtenstein to create a bespoke sapphire and diamond tiara for Crown Prince Hans Adam to present to Countess Kinsky of Austria on the occasion of their marriage.
By the time he opened his Mayfair showroom in 1969, David Morris’s clientele constituted some of the world’s most pre-eminent collectors, including Elizabeth Taylor, Queen Noor of Jordan, Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran, HRH Princess Margaret and HRH Princess Anne. What attracted such a loyal clientele was David Morris’s ability to show precious stones at their absolute best, an unerring talent for intensifying colour with the most suitable cuts and settings.
A Drexel pearl mounted as a 33.80-carat black pearl drop; a 60-carat white diamond set in a bracelet crafted with pink diamonds en tremblant; a 45-carat cushion sapphire among
white diamonds, sapphires and Paraiba tourmalines.
It’s a skill that David’s son, Jeremy, who was appointed managing director and principal designer in 2003, undoubtedly shares. ‘For me, it’s about the stones’ inherent beauty,’ says Jeremy. ‘I seek only the very best stones that possess a magical quality. I recently acquired an important Burmese no-heat sapphire, which boasts the deepest hue of blue. I created a necklace which features this 46.10-carat cushion-cut sapphire set among vividly intense Paraiba tourmalines and white diamonds – the combination of stones is utterly stunning.’
In Jeremy Morris’s own words ‘a world without coloured gemstones would be achromatic like a white diamond’, so it’s no surprise that stepping into the David Morris Bond Street universe is akin to entering the royal court of a sumptuous wonderland: beyond-rare gemstones abound in a wide range of seductive shades, forming a dazzling array of bold yet feminine designs.
What is most striking is not just the broad spectrum of colours, but also the fact that each chosen colour has always been the best of its kind for the type of gem selected. Does Jeremy Morris have a favourite gemstone? He admits that if he had to pick one above all others, it would be the emerald, the stone so beloved of Cleopatra. Which is apposite as this year just so happens to be David Morris’s emerald anniversary: 55 years of working with some of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders.
DAVID MORRIS 180 NEW BOND STREET, LONDON W1S 4RL +44 (0)20 7499 2200