Sophie is also well known throughout the world for designing the legendary Algerian Love Knot necklace and earrings for the James Bond film Casino Royale which further endorses her British credentials.
How did the collaboration with the Bond film franchise come about and what was the inspiration behind the designs?
The Bond collaboration came about in December 2005. I received an email from Lindy Hemming, Oscar-winning British costume designer for many films, including several Bond films and Batman too, asking me if I’d like to design some jewellery for the upcoming ‘Casino Royale’. It’s not an email I’d get everyday so of course I jumped at the chance! Not knowing at the time however just what an important piece of jewellery it was going to be in terms of it’s place in the intricate plot of ‘Casino’ and the amount of time that it would be on-screen (and in fact go on to appear in the sequel, ‘Quantum of Solace’ too).
Lindy had asked me to specifically design a necklace base on four interconnecting knots,which would be called the ‘Algerian Love knot’, she asked me as my style suited the piece perfectly, a combination of ancient with a modern twist and intricate symbolic details, which is the signature of all of my work. Lindy knew my work well, as I’d designed a fabulous and very unusual set of wedding jewellery a few years earlier for her daughter, featuring exotic engraved dragons with diamond eyes, so she know I could design something really unique and special for such an important film.
So on January 6th I started drawing in my sketchbook, wanting to create a piece that was both mysterious, symbolic & beautiful, that had the look of something ancient yet modern at the same time. On each of the four connecting rings of the love knot pendant there are carved symbolic details highlighted in gold, on a softly oxidised grey silver surface. Four delicate chains & an intricate clasp featuring my classic winged heart T- bar & heart shaped catch form the rest of the necklace. Ultimately,the love knot necklace is a symbol of unending love. So key for the plot involving Bond (Daniel Craig) & the alluring,mysterious Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).
What were the pieces worn in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace respectively?
The Love Knot necklace was definitely the star of the show in ‘Casino Royale’, but I also designed two beautiful pairs of earrings to be worn with it for the actual casino scenes, where Eva Green is dressed up to the nines in two amazing outfits. One pair features leaves, hearts and red & black garnets, and the other pair are made all in silver, with charm drops and raspberry garnets & amethyst briolette drops.
Only the necklace went on to feature ‘Quantum of Solace’, and was the very last shot on screen, when Bond actually throws it in to the snow, heartbroken….
Ian Fleming was famously fond and interested in diamonds from their brilliant lustre and allure to the power they have over people including diamond smuggling. Do you think diamonds still hold this power compared to other jewels?
‘Diamonds are forever’ – well yes I would agree with this,although I absolutely adore coloured gems too, and use a lot of colourful gem combinations in my current work. Coloured gems are very fashionable at the moment and rare Burmese rubies have been hitting the headlines recently, fetching huge amounts at Christies, but coloured diamonds are also always a huge pull for serious collectors, the blue & pink variety especially. My favourites are probably old cut diamonds from the Georgian and Stuart periods, but I also love the minky coloured indian briolette (bead shape) diamonds too.
I don’t really think that diamonds will ever really be pipped at the post by other gems, they are too entrenched in the public psyche as the ultimate jewel to posses & the ultimate expression of love.
What advice would you give to people who want to buy diamonds ethically?
In terms of buying an ethical stone,there is much greater awareness these days regarding ‘blood diamonds’ etc. The Kimberley process was set up in 2000 to help stop the trade in conflict diamonds, and the ensuing Kimberley process certification scheme basically ensures that shipments of rough diamonds into participating countries (including all countries in the EU) are traceable, legitimate & conflict free. I will only buy from diamond dealers that adhere to these regulations. I would suggest that it is important to buy only from reputable dealers or designers (who like myself will often source a stone for a client) and never buy directly from the internet in my opinion.
What have been some of your most Bondian experiences so far?
‘Bondian’ experiences… well having the lovely Eva Green herself ,in my studio for fittings for the Love knot necklace was fantastic, but aside from that I was lucky enough to be invited on set during filming for the lift scene in ‘Venice’ (actually Pinewood studios in London) to meet the director Martin Campbell who complimented me on the jewels- which was very nice!
I was also invited to an amazing fund raising Bond event in Laguna Beach, California for the weekend,hosted in a huge KIA car warehouse, I’d donated a love knot necklace (in silver but sprinkled with a few tiny diamonds) for the charity auction & it went for $24,000 on the night, which was very exciting. Apart from that I also got invited to a special Ian Fleming celebration night at The London Palladium and sat just in front of Daniel Craig which was fun.
My Necklace was also on show at the ‘Designing 007’ exhibition at the Barbican centre London, before the exhibition went Worldwide, so it was a fantastic private view, and an extremely glamorous evening!
Do you have items for Bond as well as Vesper?
Yes we certainly do have jewellery for the Bond man about town! We have a range of chunky silver necklaces & bracelets with our winged heart T-bar detail and optional mini love knot, pebble or other charm drops; chunky men’s rings and cuff links. The mini love knot cuff link comes in silver or 18 carat gold (with or without a gem detail) is a direct reference to Vesper’s Love knot necklace in Casino Royale.
Our latest addition, the Bond inspired mini love knot tie slides in silver (or available in 18Ct gold) with gorgeous black diamond detail is bang on trend for the gentleman who appreciates bespoke such as Tom Hiddleston!
Sophie Harley is celebrated for her exquisitely designed handmade jewellery using only precious metals and stones and flies the flag for a truly British brand and continues to design, create & manufacture all her pieces in London using traditional techniques.
Sophie began to develop her jewellery collections and launch her bespoke design service following her training at The Royal College of Art where she studied for an MA in jewellery design. 25 years on she continues to produce a range of unique and contemporary pieces that have created a cult following, the more famous of which have included Joss Stone, Kate Winslet, Jerry Hall, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Kate Beckinsale and Naomi Campbell.
Sophie has also worked on many exciting joint collaborations. With De Beers she was asked to design a stunning winged horse brooch, encrusted in gold & diamonds which was presented to the winner of the Royal Ascot King George VI Stakes, by the Queen.
Sophie was also the UK Jewellery Designer of the Year in 2013