Andrew has had a passion for jewelry since he was a small child. In fact it could perhaps be traced to the time when, at the age of three, he swallowed his one of his mother’s pearl earrings having found her jewel box hidden, from him, in a cupboard!
His first piece was a ring made from copper wire pulled from the back of a television which he gave to his Grandmother (it turned her finger green and gave her a rash, which she still has!) and then a necklace for his mother using beads taken off her wedding dress (she was not at all happy).
In 1980 when he was nine, his mother took him to the ‘Princely Magnificence’ exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, showing Renaissance jewels from dating from 1500 to 1630. This was a revelation. Dazzled by the splendour and opulence of them all he decided this was the only thing he wanted to do. In 1984 he visited Bond Street for the first time to see Wartski & Co’s exhibition of jewelry by Castellani and Giuliano. While there he was allowed to handle beautiful 18th century gold boxes and Imperial Russian pieces by Fabergé, thus further reinforcing his desire. Then in 1987 just before leaving school he took time off to visit Geneva and view the astonishing Sotheby’s auction for the jewelry of the Duchess of Windsor.
Here, for the first time, he held pieces created by some of the worlds greatest jewellers, using only the finest of stones set in designs of outstanding quality. It was a life changing experience.
In August of that year, two weeks after his 16th birthday, he started as a junior in London’s Bond Street, working for the Antiques Roadshow expert Ian Harris. Under his guidance Andrew developed a taste for jewels that were valued for their quality of design and craftsmanship, rather than how much the stones in the piece were worth.
He then joined the renowned contemporary jeweller Elizabeth Gage and worked with her on the design and production side. Through her and her private collection, he was able to see and handle rare and extraordinary stones with names like Sphene, Andalusite, Spinel and Dioptase, many of which are far more rare than diamonds. She was to have a great influence on him. It was at this point he started designing jewelry more seriously. The pieces were bold, lavish and large and caught the eye of Isabella Blow of Vogue Magazine who encouraged him to do more. She wore his choker-necklace and bracelets to the 1992 opening party of Gianni Versace’s first Bond Street shop and then featured them in the magazine worn by Helena Christensen.
Andrew then moved on to the Harrods Fine Jewelry Room where the Fashion Jewelry Department, after seeing some of his work commissioned his first collection, that of large crystal cross pendants and earrings. Following the success of this, a more Russian inspired collection followed which was subsequently mentioned in The Times newspaper. His taste for fine costume jewelry began when in an antique market he came across a late Victorian brooch set with what he initially thought were emeralds and diamonds but was in fact crystal and green glass, although they were set in silver and gold.
He then decided to create a small collection, of superior quality, that became synonymous with ‘Andrew Prince Jewelry’ and interest in his pieces grew further. When asked why he works in crystal rather than precious stones he replied “You can’t have fun with diamonds, the value of them makes it all too serious. Jewelry should be about beauty not cost. If it has to be locked up it is not a jewel, it’s a worry.”
Soon, there came some private commissions and then orders for pieces for Michael Jackson (a large crystal and pearl shoulder jewel) and necklaces for Shirley Bassey. In 2002 the Victoria and Albert Museum commissioned a collection of jewels to accompany the ‘Tiaras, Past and Present’ exhibition which became one of their most popular exhibits and that resulted in film work for him. In 2005 he was asked to make tiaras and jewelry for ‘Mrs Henderson presents’ starring Judy Dench and then in 2009 pieces for ‘The Young Victoria’ starring Emily Blunt.
Most recently in 2012, he was chosen by the creators of Downton Abbey to supply a large collection of jewelry for the third series and him also loaning some of his finest pieces to be worn by Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery thus confirming Andrew as one of the country’s leading jewelry designers.
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