Eddie Borgo on How to Build a Timeless Jewellery Collection
11th September 2015
By Alice Olins
Alice Olins discovers jewellery designer Eddie Borgo’s expert insights into wearing and gifting jewellery, plus a few of his favourite pieces at Fenwick.
Quite possibly the nicest, most engaging man in modern jewellery design, Eddie Borgo’s vision centres on classic geometry. His talent was spotted by the fashion set early on, and just out of university, Borgo was making one-off catwalk pieces for American designers including Marchesa, Joseph Altuzarra and Proenza Schouler. He formally launched his eponymous label in 2008 and his designs continue to be inspired by Americana, the history of rock and roll and the heritage of New York City. Here Alice Olins discovers Eddie’s take on wearing – and gifting – jewellery today.
###### BE BRAVE
Do not be afraid to wear your fine jewellery alongside your costume jewellery. There is a fearlessness about how women now approach jewellery. If you buy something crazy at a flea market, try wearing it with your heirloom diamonds. Being modern with jewellery is about mixing things up: wear your silver with gold, and put precious stones next to fakes.
###### MIX YOUR METALS
Some women are still apprehensive about how and when to mix different metals – be it gold, rose gold, silver or gun metal. I always like a sliver of contrast, so if you are wearing a lot of yellow gold, try to bring some silver or platinum. Likewise, a shot of rose gold amongst an arm of silver bangles can look very nice too. Rose gold is a newly accepted metal colour, which sounds so ridiculous. I do trunk shows all over the world, and you’d be surprised by how many women remain hesitant. They think if they are very pale, dark or have a pinky hue in their skin that it won’t suit them, but rose gold can look beautiful against all skin types – it’s just a matter of choosing the right shade. Ours is called a blonde rose, which means it’s not particularly orange. I think it is elegant and flattering.
###### BE SPIRITUAL
Every woman I’ve ever come across, no matter what the demographic, owns a piece of jewellery that has either been passed down through her family or was bought as a special gift. Jewellery always has an emotional connectivity, and it’s really important to have those pieces in your everyday collection. I love knowing that everything a woman has on is not new. I love seeing a slick, architectural piece next to an antique that has its own story. I think it’s really important, in a spiritual sense, to have an object on your body that represents the wearer’s history.
Pave Small Cone Studs, £79
Single Cone Bracelet, £65
Small Pyramid Bracelet, £189
Mini Striped Spike Pave Earring, £105
###### HAVE PEARLS AS PIERCINGS (AND MORE….)
Jewellery today is incredibly exciting. Women are embracing jewellery like I’ve never seen, especially in terms of the array of different ways you can wear it. There are ear cuffs, body piercings, chokers, jewelled hair accessories. Today, rings don’t just sit at the base of the finger – that’s old fashioned. Now they crawl up past the knuckle. With this in mind, the way to stay modern is to embrace change. We have finally put to rest those old traditions, passed down from our grandmothers, about how jewellery should be worn. You don’t have to wear pearls at the neck anymore; you can wear them in five of your ear piercings instead! You are no longer wearing a tiara at a debutante ball – you’re wearing it with jeans and a t-shirt and trotting off to work. I love this new jewellery dawn. Have fun embracing the style that feels right for you.
###### FIND YOUR TRUE LOVE
I think, as with everything else in life, the time to experiment with jewellery is when you are young. Experimentation is thrilling and invigorating, so try it all! As you mature though, it’s important to pinpoint your style. I think tastes naturally become more refined; it’s my opinion, but by the time you reach a certain age, you should aim to have key pieces of jewellery that become a part of you. Take my mother – I know that when she goes out to the theatre or for dinner, she’ll be wearing the bracelet my father gave her on their wedding anniversary. Your jewellery can become so much of who you are that it becomes how people perceive and identify with you.
###### LEARN TO GIFT – OR TEACH THE ONE THAT MATTERS!
Start by taking notice of her style before you launch in and buy a big gift. What colour metal does she prefer? Are there holes in her jewellery wardrobe? Is she a minimalist, or does she like to make a statement? Then think about a piece that she’ll want to wear all the time. There is no point having jewellery in a safe place – it needs to be worn and admired. I always engrave gifts - it adds to the romance. It makes the necklace or ring uniquely hers, and that is a special feeling. It helps her remember that moment in time when she opened the box (which has to be perfect, by the way) and it will help create a story around the gift so that in time, it becomes a legacy within her family. The packaging is so important because you want her to go through that emotional process of unwrapping and revealing. You aren’t just giving the jewellery – you’re giving an experience and a memory.
###### LAYER IT RIGHT
Over the summer, I think it’s okay to mix jewellery with friendship bracelets and have that whole colour/texture thing going on at the wrist. I don’t think layering makes sense for everyday though; in the morning, you aren’t going to want to put on 20 bracelets before you leave for work. In my opinion, layering means three or four beautiful pieces worn artfully together. Our collections are embedded in classical geometry. Whatever the season, we always reference cylinders, cones, pyramids and triangles. Our shapes work in tandem so that there is continuity in our language. This helps when it comes to wearing jewellery together, because you can always layer if there is a shared jewellery theme.