A Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend
Our man in W1 ponders on the charms of dogs and diamonds
Column by Guy Shepherd
It is a particularly beguiling feeling to miss someone. The soft touch of skin, a tender embrace or a firm hug have a physicality that we naturally cling to then miss when they are gone. It is slightly stranger to miss somebody or something with a similar passion.
Pets are a brilliant example as we usually love them for all the human qualities that they don’t have. We just think they do. So when they snuff it, we really miss them. Often more so than a human friend or more distant relative. I can still remember every physical detail of our springer spaniel, Gunner, forty years ago. The texture of his fur, the sparkle in his eyes and the stench after he had rolled in fox shit. Beautiful. Wild creatures are those spaniels. Once they have their noses down, there is no thicket too harsh for their pursuit, no human that can control them. On one such occasion, my father bellowed at the dog, “COME HERE, DAMN YOU!”, to which I questioned him, “Daddy. Why do you always call Gunner, Daniel?” I’m not so innocent nowadays although the questioning continues. Maybe I’ll have a dog again someday but, while I survey the daily rituals of owners in parks being reduced to poo pariahs tying delicate knots in stinking bags, I think I’ll wait until I settle back in Wiltshire permanently. Must work harder.
This vocational philosophy is clearly something I forgot whilst I spent a few weeks in my country idyll with my beautiful son during the Summer Hols. Like pets, properties hold a fascination for us. An Englishman’s castle and all that. It was bliss being there and we already miss it despite the quantum leap back to business and pleasure in Mayfair. Inanimate objects are not so cuddly though. I’ve nearly forgotten the enormous storm that sent a six inch deep river hurtling down the road, because of all the stunning sunshine before and after the tempest. We usually remember the nicer bits. I won’t forget that the patched thatch roof leaked down two chimneys into my bedroom. I certainly won’t be forgetting the thatcher’s quote to keep me dry for the next twenty years. Maybe investing in dog poo bags isn’t such a bad idea if I am to keep my hair and feet dry this winter.
As a result of this geographical anomaly, I missed Carnival. My grandmother was born in Trinidad, then moved to Jamaica where my mother grew up. I’m drawn to the island through brief experience, multiple photographs and a passion for music. I miss Jamaica. I miss it like my pet and cottage descriptions. Just replace the downside, the poo and thatched concepts, with violence. And Carnival always has that aggressive Caribbean edge. This year, I returned from the countryside and dropped my son back to his mother’s at about 6.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday. It was only then that I remembered that London’s biggest bashment was finishing just the other side of the Hill. Damn. I contented myself by buying a four pack of Jamaican Lubrication, climbed and sat atop a wall and watched the revellers staggering home. A swaying sea of feathery costumes, voluptuous women, funny smelling cigarettes, searing bass from grid locked cars, string vests worn off one shoulder, bright bandanas and flags of every colour but dominated by the black, yellow and green, the panicked scream of emergency services, plus the intoxicating stench of overproof rum. Next year, My Love, next year.
We can also miss objects. Jewellery is a prime example. However, unlike dogs and 17th century buildings, it is recyclable. The stones can be removed from their historic vessels, the precious metal can be recycled and manipulated into a new fashion and the stones replaced accordingly. Clients often bring in family heirlooms for such treatment. We are usually happy to accommodate their wish to transform the undesirable into our own art. On occasion, the piece is “named” or exquisite and we will refuse to break such import. An artist should recognise and respect the techniques and skills of their forefathers. This is how we learn and develop. The methods and collections at GUY&MAX are constantly changing too. As a result, we often have a purge of older designs to help develop and fund the stone and metal resources of contemporary projects. It is emotionally testing but, with a stiff upper lip, the cull is implemented with ruthless efficiency. Until recently.
The show piece for our Deco Collection is an 18ct White Gold & Graduated Emerald Cut Diamond Rivière Necklace. It has a whopping 32ct of stones ranging from 3.5mm to 5mm. It is stunning. Whoever tries in on feels like a star of the silver screen. But here is the rub. We have not sold it in twelve years. We have sold plenty from it. Numerous G&M emerald cut diamond line bracelets and eternity rings are bedecking beautiful girls’ wrists and fingers but their necks are deprived of the sensational. I’ve even tried to sell the necklace at cost to would be investors so that I do not have to break it up. But break it up we shall. We have procrastinated this heart breaking decision for over two years but we have to now. The reason is simple. There is now no place for this piece of jewellery in the GUY&MAX digital pantheon. The design ethos, build process, hand setting and finishing techniques employed now are totally different to twelve years ago and these are the precise reasons that people contact us from all around the globe. A show piece must demonstrate our unique identity. So, with a tear in my eye, I wish it a fond farewell and look forward to its reincarnation. R.I.P. (Rest In Pieces).