Society problems

The Royal Mint’s surprising solution to our cashless society

In the years that followed, he consulted for brands such as Fabergé and Thierry Mugler, and served as creative director for British jewelry houses Astley Clarke and Links of London. It was his tenure with the latter that caught him to the attention of the Royal Mint last March. He was asked to bring a new lifestyle brand to life, with one stipulation: everything had to be made in-house, in the UK.

“It took me a minute to understand, because if you were [launching a brand] with a profit-driven goal, you would never do it that way. You would work with existing manufacturers. But with this project, the measures of success are not purely financial; it’s about supporting British industry, creating jobs, preserving skills. We couldn’t go into a race to the bottom, because we can’t compete on price with companies that produce in the Far East. It could only be a beautiful, high-value luxury brand. »

The first core collection, also named 886 after the year the Royal Mint was founded, is at first glance a straightforward range of solid gold everyday hoops, bracelets, wedding bands and chains. These are modern, asexual and clean jewelry that you would wear all day, every day. The ingenuity lies in this apparent simplicity. “It’s kind of infuriating because it’s so unobtrusive yet so complicated in design,” Jones says. “It’s not flashy jewelry that people are going to point to as soon as you walk in – it’s surreal and interesting, the type of piece that draws people in; they will realize at the end of a dinner that they have been watching it all night.

The flagship piece – a solid 18k gold choker retailing for £29,995 – takes its shape from a traditional inverted gold bar. Jones distorted and stretched the shape, smoothing and curving every angle so it almost seemed to float. The interior is engraved with 19th-century poet Thomas Hood’s Ode to Gold; future collections will include verses written by modern British wordsmiths. It took, Jones says, “about 47 iterations” to reach the final shape. The slightly scooped silhouette is worn on hoops, bands and cuffs, with each piece available in three widths in 18k gold, 9k gold or silver – a clever way to democratize design. Prices start at a modest £99 for a pair of Britannia silver earrings.

Each coin bears a visual marker of its weight in grams of precious metal, as a reminder of its intrinsic value. “The Royal Mint came into being to create a reliable store of value, through precious metals,” says Jones. “It made me think of the Indian approach to gold jewelry, as a store of wealth that you can take with you. This idea of ​​portable ingots was where this item originated. A friend recalls whose father had given him a cuff with a notch for every gram of gold – “so if he ever got into some kind of accident, he knew he could take a notch off his cuff and it would get him out of trouble. trouble.”