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Exclusive Interview: Asprey’s Managing Director, Paddy Byng on heritage, the arts and the future

The very British institution of Asprey has spent 160 years of its 230 year history at home on London’s glamorous New Bond Street. When Paddy Byng took on the role of managing director, in 2011, his strategy was to re-focus on the British-ness of the brand. His penchant for provenance has clearly paid off – alongside his forward thinking and recent strategic collaborations with the worlds of art and fashion – Asprey is glowing.

Paddy Byng

Paddy Byng

Q. Where are Asprey products made? Do you still have workshops above your Bond Street store?

A. Yes, we house the silver, jewellery and leather workshops above the flagship store, as well as having a resident engraver. Many of our stock items are made in the workshops such as our barware collections, including the beautiful rocket and lighthouse cocktail shakers and our renowned animal head decanters. Much of our bespoke work is also done in the workshops.

Q. We’ve noticed Asprey’s connection with film has been growing in recent years – In 2004 Keira Knightley became your new face, since 2008 you’ve been official jewellery partner of the Orange BAFTA s… and you have a history of creating some of the iconic pieces of the 20th Century including the Coeur de la Mer necklace for the 1997 film, Titanic, and more recently providing the pen for the abdication signature in The King’s Speech. What’s next?

A. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with BAFTA into 2014 – our sixth year as the official jewellery partner and Nominee Party hosts, and we will use this partnership to further showcase our new jewellery collections.

Q. You also seem to be collaborating in the fashion world. How did your partnerships with Katie Hillier and Shaun Leane come about?

A. We are not a fashion brand, but we have spent a lot of time curating design talent across our product categories, employing British designers who have an inherent sense of style and appreciation for Asprey and our heritage. Shaun worked on the bench many years ago as a young apprentice in Hatton Garden creating pieces for Asprey, so it’s wonderful to have such a talented designer who understands Asprey’s DNA as he has worked with us before. Katie’s expertise is really her capability to combine Asprey’s signature style with her experience in luxury, to create new designs with a modern and relevant appeal. In addition to Shaun and Katie, we are always on the look out for the very best design talent. We are working with Hakan Rosenius, who curates our book department, designs our men’s leather collections as also develops designs in silver, china and crystal.

Asprey & Shaun Leane Collaboration: Woodland Charm bracelet

Asprey & Shaun Leane Collaboration: Woodland Charm bracelet

Q. Arnold & Son have been around since 1764. What inspired your collaboration with them in 2013 and will this continue?

A. We have stocked Arnold & Son watches for many years. The world’s thinnest palladium tourbillon watch is a record breaking timepiece and the collaboration really endorses two prestigious brands that are experts in their fields and seemed a natural fit. We continue to stock Arnold & Son and hope that this important relationship develops over many more years.

Q.  Asprey continues to hold the Royal Warrant given by The Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Charles as Jewellers, Goldsmiths and Silversmiths. What is the significance of this?

A. Our Royal Warrant is an integral part of our British Heritage and for many of our clients this represents a stamp of approval for quality and craftsmanship which we are very proud of.

Q. Are Asprey diamonds and leathers sustainable sourced? Is that important to you?

A. Yes, very. We must ensure that our products are made from the finest materials; however, it’s imperative that we know where and how they are sourced – for example we only produce leather products using skins from sustainable sources. We are committed to promoting the responsible, ethical and environmental processes within the diamond industry and our diamonds are all conflict-free and purchased from a legitimate source adhering to the UN agreement, the Kimberley Process Accord.

Q. What does luxury mean to you?

A. Luxury is about obtaining beautiful, rare products made to the very highest standards by the most experienced craftspeople in the world and from the best quality materials known to exist; it is also about delivering a truly exceptional service.

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