Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Links Of London Connects Friendship

Friendship Bracelets from Links Of London
For a jewelry designer that has been around a bit more than a decade, it's striking how well Links of London has established a sense of permanence. It feels old school, but it's all new school.

Even the startup was accidental. A local restaurant commissioned the design of sterling silver fish cufflinks, which the owner intended to give to his loyal customers as a gift. Maybe the artist overshot the promotional intent, but the cufflinks became a coveted keepsake around London.

It wasn't long before the esteemed luxury department store Harvey Nichols came calling. They weren't just interested in the fish cufflinks, but an entire collection of accessories to go along with them.

Links of London makes a statement with friendship bracelets. 

Although Links Of London is known the world over as a luxury brand, one of its unique characteristics that has always stood out to me is its ability to transform the ordinary into something timeless. There isn't any better example than the Links of London friendship collection.

red bracelet
Friendship bracelets have a history older than most people realize. They were first made by Native Americans, who employed the knotting technique (macramé) to make bracelets and established the custom of never taking off such bracelets until they wear off. It wasn't until much later that hippies adopted them as a symbol of simplicity. But since the sixties, surfers tend to preserve the bracelets.

turquoise bracelet Links of London modernized some of the approach to bridge the gap between the knotted fabrics that anyone can fasten together and sterling silver that gives the concept of a renewed look. Specifically, the addition of sterling silver changes the rustic look to a rugged one. The jewelry is tough too.

Although Links of London makes its sterling silver with an alloy of copper or other base metals, it is generally recognized as high grade. Of 1,000 parts sterling silver, 925 parts are silver and 75 parts are other metals including copper. Once created and embellished, all of it is polished by hand.

The silver used in the friendship bracelets reminds me of the steel rods of miniature dumbbells that are tied together with metallic threads, usually presented in one or two colors (sometimes more). The clasp that allows a drawstring closure is also sterling silver, as well as the anchors. This makes each piece uniquely adjustable, between 160 and 250mm.

Recently, Links of London also introduced its cord bracelets, which include the same durable threads used by the friendship bracelets but without the silver rods. It's simple and cute, but not nearly as striking as the friendship bracelets themselves.

A bit more about the Links of London brand founders. 

Annoushka DucasMost stories about how Links of London got its start tend to focus on the brand and not the people. This is somewhat typical in the design world, especially when companies grow up to employ more designers and the original designer takes the helm as a creative director.

But in the case of Links of London, it's hard for anyone in fashion to miss out on who the founders are. Just last year, Annoushka Ducas was awarded an MBE for her services to the British jewelry industry. And it is she and her husband, John Ayton, an Oxford graduate and former corporate lawyer, who represent two links behind the brand — Ducas for her always inspired and Russian influenced creativity and Ayton for his relentless pursuit of excellence and entrepreneurial spirit.

In fact, the business that Ducas famously designed the cufflinks for was her mother's business. And it was from this small idea that an entire luxury jewelry brand began to grow. Since, she has taken an even greater role in British jewelry design as a working mom and business woman by searching out and nurturing young creative talent. This includes overseeing a successful annual jewelry design project with students at Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design.

Friendship Bracelets By Links Of London Tie 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Although the design somewhat detracts from the concept that friendship bracelets are unisex, it's easy enough to understand why women might like them. The majority of jewelry on the market today is pretty but somewhat fragile (unless it's huge). These bracelets aren't like that. Likewise, as a gift, they feel intimate and loyal, but not overtly committed.

You can find several styles of friendship bracelets by Links of London at The Jewel Hut for less than typical retail prices. The only known limitation is that the bracelets cannot be engraved as they could if ordered from Links of London direct. The bracelets typically range between $225-250 or about $175 at The Jewel Hut. Avoid any imitations, which sell as low as $10.
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