tracey emin jewellery
Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Webster

Fine artist with a romantic side Tracey Emin and fine jeweler with a celeb following Stephen Webster have created a jewelry collection made in Valentine’s Day gift heaven. Set in 18K gold, the “I Promise to Love You,” collection references Emin’s iconic neon sign works and animal sketches. Bracelets, pendants, ear cuffs, earrings and rings spell out heartbreakingly lovely sayings like the collection’s namesake piece as well as “With You I Breathe,” “More Passion,” and “Love” with a heart and a kiss in Emin’s script. Emin’s figurative woodland creatures like the hare, owl, toad and kitten have been made into yellow gold charms to be worn on a necklace chain or collected onto a charm bracelet. Webster and Emin have been friends for decades, so this natural union of art and jewelry has in a way been in the works for years. “As Tracey pointed out on my 56th birthday, we have known each other for almost 40 years. Our first encounter was at the Atlantis Disco at the entrance of Dreamland in Margate dancing to rare groove American funk being spun by a very young Pete Tong,” Webster explains, “Some two decades later we became really great friends, always conscious of our Kent roots and Tracey’s genuine gypsy heritage.” Below, Webster speaks to Emin’s art, making it into bijoux and picking favorites.

Harper’s BAZAAR: Why is Emin’s art a good fit for your jewellery?

Stephen Webster: Tracey made a neon for my Rodeo Drive store six years ago that read “I Promise To Love You” with the slogan sitting inside a heart. Tracey said she always thought ‘that’ neon belonged in a jewelry store, where people get engaged and buy wedding rings. That is a very Tracey way of looking at things. She was of course right and it was from then on that I started to look at Tracey’s work and knew that so much of it would translate perfectly into jewellery. When I made a ring for Tracey that included two depictions of her animal sketches, we both thought how amazing they looked as hand engravings into gold.

HB: What was your approach to design around the art pieces?

SW: I worked from a few of Tracey’s drawings, that I have always loved, and began to sketch what I thought might be an amazing collection. I don’t usually get stage fright but it was a lot of work on paper, and you want a positive reading. Also we kept price in mind. This is not an elitist collection. It was important to her that it wasn’t priced just for her art collectors.

tracey emin jewellery
Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Webster

HB: What do you love about Tracey’s art?

SW: I love her most recent large scale pieces that appear to be paintings but on close study are dramatic stitched female figures.  I am also fortunate enough to own a portrait of myself that Tracey gave me in exchange for once writing her column in the Independent while she was in Australia. The piece is titled ‘David Essex or Ken Dodd’, it’s brilliant.

HB: How was it working with her given your long history?

Tracey and I have known each other for almost 40 years. She has become a really great friend, always reminiscent of our Kent roots.  Tracey and I are also god parents to one of our best friend’s, Mich Jones’ two daughters.

HB: What’s your favorite piece of Tracey’s? Did you use that piece in the collection?

SW: I have several favorite pieces but if forced to choose one it would be the ‘More Passion’ cuff. I think a cuff bracelet is a great statement piece of jewelry and when a statement actually makes a statement, it’s a potent combination that’s hard to ignore.

The “I Promise to Love You” collection hits on January 20, before launching at Stephen Webster stores on 10 February.

From: Harper’s BAZAAR US