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For Jo Malone London, the well-known fragrance brand with a strong British heritage, it took a dinner at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles last year to spark the inspiration for its newly launched collaboration — a collection of handmade limited-edition perfume bottle caps each dotted with one of the 12 birthstones.
The idea was hatched when the brand’s ambassador, Karen Elson, was in town hosting her last event for Jo Malone London and brainstorming about projects and products with John Demsey, executive group president of Estee Lauder, which owns Jo Malone London. She was drawn to create something that felt timeless and collectible, not unlike a treasured item her good friend Liz Goldwyn had gifted her — the Estee Lauder Zodiac compact bearing the supermodel’s astrological sign.
“It really is a keepsake, and that was what I wanted,” said Elson, while sitting at the long dinner table dotted with dozens of Jo Malone London perfume bottles and candles. “In the world that we live in, where everything is really fast and everything is sort of mass produced,`there’s something about having even a tiny little thing that has some meaning to it.”
Elson enlisted British jeweler Duffy, who handcrafted each cap from bronze and inlaid the stones atop the angular Art Deco-inspired pieces. The arduous process of creating the product means a limited run of just 36 caps available for purchase in the U.S.
The London-based jeweler, who specializes in bespoke pieces, is no stranger to the intricacies of fine craftsmanship. But creating each bottle top by hand proved challenging, even for a seasoned artist.
“To make what I’ve made, probably goes against everything you should do to make an easy job for yourself when you’re a silversmith or a jeweler,” said the jeweler. “Anything with straight lines, flat surfaces, deep crevices you can’t get into. I did all those things on this lid.”
The result is a stunning and weighty bronze cap that Duffy says will patina over time. The challenge in creating such an intricate piece, he adds, is one of the best parts of what he does.
“Every time you make something, it’s a new process,” he said. “There’s no strict rule in jewelry and silversmithing so every time it’s trial and error and learning. And that’s part of the challenge and the fun of my industry.”
To launch the collaboration, Elson and Duffy hosted a dinner on Tuesday night at Sunset Tower Hotel where guests including Goldwyn, Amber Valletta and Dita Von Teese all joined to celebrate. Von Teese, wore a sizeable sapphire ring (her birthstone) by French jewelry house Henri J. Sillam. The burlesque artist and author fawned over the beauty of the ring but declared herself a die-hard fan of emeralds. “Emeralds are a girl’s best friend,” she stated, also giving credit to diamonds and pearls, as stones she covets and collects.
For Elson, birthstones have an especially significant meaning this month, as the model and musician will celebrate her 40th birthday on Jan. 14.
“My birthstone is a garnet,” said Elson. “I would love if I was an opal. I don’t know what month that is, but I’m obsessed with opal.”
To mark the milestone birthday, she says she will take some time for herself, turn off her phone for a few days and relax. Reflecting on the year ahead, Elson said, “There’s a lot on the horizon for next year. I’m excited with what the possibilities are as a model who’s been doing it for a long time, what else I can do.”
Karen Elson’s Birthstones by Duffy perfume caps are $330 each and available in store at Bergdorf Goodman and online.
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