The Source File: Art to Wear

Jill Newman, Robb Report, July 8, 2017

From reimagined rotorcraft to a steampunk-styled watch, these ideas may be closer than you think.


Louisa Guinness would rather wear her favorite artists than hang them on her walls. Her namesake London gallery presents jewelry by artists spanning the range from Calder to Koons, and she scours the international market for established and emerging names to design pieces for her. Guinness highlights the growing wearable-art category in her forthcoming coffee-table book, Art as Jewellery, which will appear in September. Here she divulges some of her favorite jewelers and happiest hunting grounds.


On Artists Making Jewelry

They are not restricted by the commercial production limitations of big jewelry houses. They challenge the more mundane designs and can be entirely original and impractical.


Scouting for Art and Artifacts

I’m always traveling, and I always have my eyes open. I look everywhere—on the Internet, at auctions and galleries, and dealers send me things. I’m meeting and chatting with artists all the time and looking at art. I’m constantly seeking artists that I think could work in the jewelry medium, and then I approach them with the idea. Most say yes.


Art Fairs or Not

All the personal touch of buying art has gone when you visit these rat races. There are too many people with an agenda, and there’s not enough time to enjoy what they are doing. Buying art should be a pleasure. I get inspired by exhibitions like the Venice Biennale, and I like big gallery exhibits and museums.



I am a big fan of Adrian Sassoon’s ceramics and glass. Also, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos in New York has a great eye for jewels. I have a few favorite old furniture shops on Pimlico Green, and I go to open markets like the Puces in Paris and Kempton (on every other Tuesday). I have built my own group of dealers and sources over time. No one will divulge their sources; you have to discover them yourself.


Cities That Inspire

I have just been to Tokyo and Kyoto. Everything is so beautiful, so well planned and organized. The temple of Kinkaku-ji is beautifully set in tranquil gardens. The richness of the lavish gold exterior of the temple is in stark contrast to the Zen peacefulness of the gardens. I also loved the vast rising bamboos of the Arashiyama bamboo groves.


Jewelry That Excites

I love anything that is a little unusual. I love the modern work of James de Givenchy for Taffin. I love the way he mixes materials, like the ceramic colors with different stones; they set each other off. I collect special pieces by great makers. I wish I had started earlier, as some of the best pieces by Belperron and Boivin, for example, are out of my price range now. I also love Grima and John Donald jewelry.


Last Purchase

A pair of gold-and-diamond Schlumberger earrings for Tiffany. They are the Paris Flame design from the ’60s or ’70s but are very contemporary. They are elegant and classic—something I can wear now and when I am 80. I also just bought a set of Lalanne flatware.


Current Obsession

Drawing and designing my own jewelry. I’m having a few of my designs made, but only for myself; it is just for fun.


Art at Home

My husband, Ben Brown, is an art dealer, and he is pretty much in charge of the walls, and I’m in charge of the rest. I usually like what he brings home. I like Tony Bevan, Awol Erizku, Basquiat, Yoan Capote, Alighiero Boetti, Fontana. As you can see, it’s pretty diverse.