Carol Woolton, Jewellery Editor of British Vogue, talks to Adorn London


Carol Woolton is a leading authority on jewellery. She has written widely on antique and contemporary jewellery for the London Times, the Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph. Carol was Tatler’s first jewellery editor and is now jewellery editor of British Vogue. In her book, Fashion for Jewels: 100 Years of Style and Icons, Carol shows how the worlds of fashion and jewellery have become increasingly integrated over the last century. The book showcases classic jewellers alongside the cutting-edge designers we know today. Style icons including the likes of Gabrielle Chanel and Lady Gaga reveal the interplay of personality and history in the world of fashion, as jewellery is bought to life in the pages of this book, which pays tribute to the glorious, twinkling adornment that is jewellery.

Fashion for Jewels 100 Years of Styles and Icons, Carol Woolton,jewellery  editor of Vogue

Carol and Juliet talk more about the book, the inspiration and Carol’s life in jewellery in an exclusive interview.

Juliet: First, as Jewellery Editor of Vogue London, you have been privy to some of the world’s most glamorous and opulent jewels; what would you consider your highlight over the years?
Carol: There is something magical about seeing where diamonds originate from, so my highlight would be going down my first mine – the Premier in South Africa – where the magnificent Cullinan diamond was found.

Juliet: You talk about the interplay of personality and history in the world of fashion. How influential is film, for example, on jewellery?
Carol: There’s a huge synergy between films and jewels, as both are the stuff of dreams and magic. Since Hollywood first began, it has helped promote diamonds and diamonds have added a lustre and sparkle to Hollywood. The first cinematographers used jewellery to add luminosity to an actress’s face in black and white films and tiny glints of shimmering light like moonlight. In some cases, such as diamond heist movies like ‘The Pink Panther’, jewels were the stars of the film and a million rom-coms end with the star of the film being presented with a glittering diamond engagment ring. Some of the cinema’s most iconic images involve the fantasy of jewels, such as Audrey Hepburn in a diamond tiara in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ or Marilyn Monroe softly singing ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. And of course actresses use jewels to give them a high glamour quotient at film premieres on red carpets around the world.

Holly Fulton London Fashion Week Sepetmber 2009 Manhattan ring by Matina Amanita
Holly Fulton LFW September 2009 Manhattan ring by Matina Amanita

Juliet: Is the perception of fashion jewels changing? Are fashion pieces becoming sought after investment gems?
Carol: Large sized diamonds or fancy coloured stones are rare – we can never know how many more will be pulled from the earth – so they will also be sought as a safe form of portable wealth. There is also a finite supply of antique pieces signed by the great haute joaillerie names such as Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpels, so they also make a good investment for the future. Some of the fashion pieces of today will be the art deco heirlooms of tomorrow, but you should always buy what you like to wear, rather than viewing it as a possible source of future income.

Juliet: Do you see unisex jewellery developing in the future? Would this be a spin-off from the massive growth we are seeing in men’s jewellery today?
Carol: I think unisex jewellery is for a particular style of woman – some like the tough motifs of men’s jewels, like daggers, skulls and snakes if they have a dark style and Gothic sensibility.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy 1962
Jackie Kennedy 1962

Juliet: Your book reflects on style icons of the past; which designers will become the ‘Future Vintage’?
Carol: I think designers of the moment who will become ‘future vintage’ will be the ones with a strong individual aesthetic who created an original look: Joel Rosenthal at JAR in Paris,  Victoire de Castellane at Dior and Solange Azagury-Partridge.

Juliet: What was the most outstanding piece of information you learnt from researching your book?
Carol: I never realised how women who wore floral chintz fashion in the 18th century (imported from India)  were vilified and attacked in the street by members of the anti-calico movement created by the woollen industry.

Juliet: How do you go about choosing the jewellery that makes up your jewellery wardrobe?
Carol: Jewellery is influenced by everything around us – art, sculpture, cinema, fashion and architecture – so I try to choose something that speaks of the time we are living in, but which I know I will want to wear forever. Often I resist a piece and when I find myself going back time and again to try it on – like I did recently with a David Webb ring at Moira on Bond Street – I know that I have to own it.

Juliet: Do you have a jewellery style tip?
Carol: I have three:
1. One well-chosen piece makes more of an impact than piling on your whole jewellery box;
2. make sure a piece fits properly, because if it’s not comfortable, you won’t wear it;
3. if you don’t wear a piece ever, I believe in re-styling and re-cycling.

3 responses to “Carol Woolton, Jewellery Editor of British Vogue, talks to Adorn London”

  1. Marian says:

    Wonderful questions and answers. It is fascinating how the perception and influence of jewellery has evolved over the course of fashion.

  2. Rachel Lucie says:

    Great article. Jewellery really has been influential to style and some of our great film icons, hasn’t it? Nice to see that acknowledged!

    Really liked the jewellery style tips, practical good advice.

  3. Reta Soesbe says:

    How’s things, nice page however there is a issue whereby on occassion I get redirected to the base page when I view different posts in this site.

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