On the rocks
Nick Bartley is a self-taught jewellery designer whose brand Lucas Jack is hallmarked by bold colours and irresistible tactility. Pieces are plated with 18-karat gold then brushed for a satin finish, and fans of the rich look range from Cheryl Cole to Pixie Lott. We thought we’d dig a little deeper to learn the secrets of this golden boy.
We hear shiny stuff is in fact your second career. What did you do before?
I joined a bank as a graduate from university and worked for seven years in the City, Hong Kong and Singapore. I knew it was not something that I wanted to do forever; I wanted to do something a little more creative.
So why jewellery instead of, say, garden design or filmmaking?
I’ve always had an interest in jewellery. When I was really, really young I used to raid my mum’s jewellery box. Little gemstones, little rings – it all seemed like treasures to me. Something about it always attracted me.
When I’d had enough of banking I thought, ‘It’s now or never.’ I took 18 months off travel. There was a lot of great jewellery in places like South America, Bali and Thailand, so I think the idea formed on my travels and just started from there.
What’s the Lucas Jack style?
I believe in simplicity really, and very clean lines. I don’t like too much fuss. I like to use the colour of the stones and the texture of the gold to make the statement rather than try to include too many clever design features. You can make a statement by keeping things simple.
Where does the name come from?
My nephew is called Lucas Jack Bartley, and he was born quite soon before I launched the brand. We developed a particularly strong bond from the day I met him, so I thought it was quite fitting. And also it just sounded much better than my name. He’ll probably charge me one day!
So is it just coincidence that your studio’s not far from Fashion Street?
We’re in the old fruit exchange building because my wife and I used to live in Brick Lane. My wife has a boutique in Spitalfields called Chica and we also have a little boy whose nursery is around here. It’s such a great area I think with a fantastic vibe.
So it sounds like you don’t exactly miss banking, right?
We’re in about 16 House of Frasers, one of which is down the road in Gracechurch Street. It was the first one I went in when the range hit the stores. The actual building used to be Standard Chartered Bank, where I used to work. My jewellery is on the same floor and – unbelievably – about 20 feet from where I used to sit! It’s almost like I’m still there but I don’t have to work in banking, which is quite nice.
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