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July 24 2014

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a view to a kill

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“Don’t be frightened,” Theo Fennell told us as we entered his Show Off! exhibit at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, which opened yesterday. “It’s different from any other jewelry show you’ve seen.” The next thing we saw was a blood-splattered guillotine. Marie Antoinette may have lost her head, but Fennell’s gold Burma ruby and diamond dagger earrings glimmered intact in her earlobes. The sinister but dazzling atmosphere continued in the next room, where Quasimodo, wearing a white and black diamond quiver pendant, hovered over an electric chair-bound figure sporting a massive neon-blue Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline and diamond knuckle-duster, a one-off piece that’s available to interested parties for £450,000 (about $900,000). With all the skulls, scorpions, and graveyards, we wondered about Fennell’s morbid inspiration. “Jewels will last longer than we ever will,” said the designer. “We rarely buy a dress thinking it will become a vintage piece, but we know that jewelry will outlast us.” According to Fennell, even once we are nothing but bones, our baubles will still sparkle. We didn’t have to look far for evidence: His graveyard skeleton was fantastically accessorized with a Burmese peridot and diamond Griffin cross pendant and a handsome eagle ring studded with a yellow beryl, a black diamond, and a yellow sapphire.

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