It started almost as a whimsy. Then it took over her life.
For Louisa Guinness, jewelry made by artists is more than just adornment. Her gallery in the Mayfair district of London is a mecca for those who love such style. She frequently commissions pieces from contemporary artists such as Anish Kapoor, Claude LaLanne, Marc Quinn and Ron Arad and works closely with them on the designs. She has curated art jewelry exhibitions for Sotheby’s S|2 Gallery in London and is curating another for Jacob Rothschild, to open at his Waddesdon Manor museum, in Buckinghamshire, in March.
But her life didn’t start this way. Ms. Guinness, who was born in Ireland, spent nearly 20 years in the finance world, first in London and then in Hong Kong and New York, before returning to Britain in 2000. “I needed a break,” she recalled. “I didn’t know what it was I wanted to do, but I knew somehow it should be with art, or jewelry and art.”
In 2003, she and her husband, the art dealer Ben Brown, came up with the idea to organize an exhibition of artist-designed outdoor furniture. Soon after, inspired by her mother-in-law’s Calder necklace, Ms. Guinness organized a Christmas-season sales exhibition of jewelry by artists.
“I wanted to put together all the artist jewelry I could get my hands on,” Ms. Guinness recounted, “because the more I discovered and the more others discovered it, I just wanted more and more.”
That first exhibition focused on Picasso and Max Ernst and included a gold Picasso pendant with carved bulls’ heads, as well as several pendants by Niki de Saint Phalle — all art jewelry classics. In addition, she approached Mr. Kapoor, who produced a special Water Ring for the occasion.