Emili Vesilind at JCK Magazine interviews Simon Teakle to discuss jewelry, luxury and of course the much anticipated opening of the gallery at 4 Grigg Street.
Jewelry Veteran Brings Quirky Opulence to First Retail Store
After a 30-year career in the jewelry industry punctuated by a stint heading up Christie’s Jewelry Department, Simon Teakle is ready to present his singular version of “quirky opulence.”
The British gemologist will debut his first retail store, Simon Teakle Fine Jewelry, Sept. 8 in Greenwich, Conn.
The 750-square-foot space, which inhabits the city’s original fruit and vegetable depot, is located just off main shopping drag, Greenwich Avenue, and stocks both antique and modern jewelry, along with gift items hand-picked by Teakle.
The shop marks the first solo retail endeavor for the industry vet, who played a major hand in the sales of some of this past century’s most illustrious jewelry pieces and collections—including the Agra Diamond, the Indore Diamonds, the Rockefeller Sapphire, and jewelry belonging to Eva Perón, Doris Duke, and Elizabeth Taylor.
For Teakle, opening a store is “something I’ve always wanted to do. Ultimately, whether you’re putting an auction together or you’re running a department for another retailer, it’s someone else’s vision and business,” he says. “So to be able to have a store that reflects your own taste and have the business be the way you want to be…ultimately, it’s self-serving. It’s what I want to do.”
Finding extraordinary pieces at every price range is Teakle’s favorite aspect of his new gig: “It’s not just about dealing with things that are expensive. It’s about finding interesting objects.”
Store inventory spans centuries and a rainbow of personal predilections. The store’s antique and vintage jewelry collection, which ranges in price from $1,000 to $500,000, includes Roman beads, 18th-century British pieces, and circa-1980s statement baubles from venerable houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels.
The store’s selection of new jewelry starts and ends with pieces from Taffin Fine Jewelry designer James de Givenchy, who’s known for his meticulous craftsmanship and bold use (and combinations) of sizeable colored gemstones.
The partnership is an exclusive; de Givenchy has never sold pieces outside of his New York atelier before. “He didn’t need much convincing,” notes Teakle. “James and I are old friends. I told him what I was up to and said if there were any chance of working [together], I’d love to do it. Greenwich doesn’t need another jewelry designer. But James is different. I believe, with a few rare exceptions, he’s set apart from everybody else.” Taffin pieces range in price from $5,000 to $100,000.
The store’s selection of gifts is as distinctive as its jewelry collections. There are treasures for men and women—geared to the area’s uber-affluent locals, who “when they want something, they go out and buy it,” says Teakle.
On opening day, expect to stumble upon a 1950s Astin Martin logo that once inhabited the company showroom; a solid silver Edwardian exhibition model of the first bomber biplane; a circa-1970s Lucite Coca-Cola bottle and bass guitar; and leather accessories including umbrellas, jewelry rolls, and backgammon sets from British luxury label Pickett.
“Everything is luxurious, but not in an obvious way,” says Teakle. The aesthetics are “more discreet than flamboyant.”
The store’s decor is conventionally English feeling but with modern elements. There’s a stately old British lantern in the foyer, a sofa swathed in hand-printed Indian silk, sleek glass-and-steel showcases, an antique desk, and 20th-century fashion photos hanging on the walls.
“I am trying to offer a curated inventory in an environment that’s not a typical retail environment,” says Teakle. “It’s a cross between a gallery and residence.”
As excited as Teakle is about being a shop owner, he’s hoping the endeavor will afford him some much-needed balance in his life. “I want to open this store so that I can look after my clients, deal with lovely jewelry, and have a nice day,” he says. “I’m not interested in re-creating this all over the country—I want it to be lovely things that are hand-chosen by me. If you look at the people who’ve been very successful in this business, it’s been about them and their personalities. Once you start to franchise that, something gets lost.”