Subtlety is not a strong suit of jewelry designer Leo de Vroomen. Recently, when a client entered his London boutique wearing diminutive diamond stud earrings, de Vroomen couldn’t refrain from commenting: “Take those miserable things off your ears.” She slipped her earrings into her handbag and, not surprisingly, left the shop wearing a new pair of bold yellow citrine and red enamel ear clips.
“If you’re going to wear jewelry, then it should make a statement,” says de Vroomen, who opened his first boutique in Belgravia last summer. Clients are drawn to him as much for his vibrant and stylish designs as for his no-holds-barred advice on what to wear. “When I put the right earrings on a woman,” he says, “she never goes back to small jewelry again.”
De Vroomen likens himself to an old-fashioned couturier who dresses clients with close attention to precise proportions and colors, and he especially delights in selecting earrings. “Earrings frame the face,” he explains. “The right pair will enhance a woman’s beauty; the wrong earrings can be dreadful.” Before choosing the ideal ear clips, he studies a woman’s complexion, hair color, face shape, and personal style. He points out thata long neck requires chunky earrings, a heart-shaped face looks best with long earrings, and olive skin can appear brighter with lime green peridot earrings.
Still, what brings a loyal international following to de Vroomen’s door is his creative use of enamel and colored gemstones, a signature style he developed 30 years ago when he was a struggling young jeweler. “I always loved bold color, but when I started out, I could not afford big gemstones,” he explains. “Enamel was a fantastic way to show big color without having to invest in gems.”
As his business grew,so did his ability to purchase large gemstones
of exceptional quality. Among his favorite combinations is slate blue enamel contrasted with mandarin garnet or steel gray enamel with brilliant green peridot. While the designer still makes most of the pieces by hand in his work-shop, he relies on local enamelers to create his unique colors and textured finishes.
De Vroomen credits his penchant for color to his upbringing in Holland’s flower bulb–growing district, where he was surrounded by an abundance of vivid blooms. While his three brothers chose to join the family bulb business, de Vroomen opted for a jewelry apprenticeship in Switzerland. Afterward, he moved to London, where he taught goldsmithing at a local college and made jewelry at night. (Click image to enlarge)
Over the past three decades, de Vroomen has witnessed the comings and goings of jewelry trends, yet he has always remained true to his own style. In addition to his unconventional color combinations, he developed a signature technique for gold, which is portrayed in textural shapes reflecting a soft yellow tone with a slight greenish cast. “I don’t polish gold to death,” he says. “I prefer gold’s natural color when it is softly hammered or textured.”
Why did he wait until the age of 60 to open his own boutique? “After all these years of experience, I have the confidence to tell my clients what looks good and what looks bad.” Apparently, his straightforward advice is appreciated.
Leo de Vroomen, +44.2077.302.345, www.leodevroomen.com