On seeking out unusual and original jewellery for Fortnum & Mason.

Fortnum & Mason is a proper icon of retail, a landmark in both the real and metaphoric sense. Ever since its opening in 1707, the Piccadilly store has served the rich, the stylish and the wannabes with the finest quality wares.

As head of fashion, home and beauty for the London megalith, Jo Newton is in many ways the store’s face to the trade for its sexiest product lines. And this year she devoted her attention to jewellery, overseeing a revamp of the jewellery room, which forms part of the shop’s slow-burning mission to gild its traditional reputation with a forward-looking approach.


The refit tickled London’s fancy, with its dailies and glossies getting their inky prints all over the brand new glass cabinets when it launched, adding a significant PR fanfare to the redesign.

The resulting footfall thrilled to a refreshed line up of brands from Stephen Webster to Vivienne Westwood via Katie Rowland and Christopher Kane. The launch was also timed to coincide with Fortnum & Mason becoming the first retailer to host the Rock Vaults cohort of young brands.

“This is a curated collection of jewellery that is a perfect balance of the modern and the traditional,” says Jo. “We will always seek out the unusual and the original for our store, and there will be a real sense of theatre around these beautiful pieces.” The event, the opening, the line up – it all added up to maximum impact and for that act of impressive co-ordination alone Jo must be praised.

For the rest of us, as an industry you have to look twice when such a major store gets involved at the contemporary level. It means it has targeted jewellery as a serious battleground and source of profit – and however you look at it, that is an endorsement of the trade’s new wave.

Jo Newton was selected as an IJL Retail Star in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.

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