'Inside Asprey: Luxury by Royal Appointment', an hour-long documentary, will air this Thursday, 3 July, on ITV. Filmed at the luxury brand's flagship store on New Bond Street, it offers a fascinating insight into one of the country's oldest and most prestigious jewellers.
No stone is left unturned as the film crew documents the inner workings of the jewellery workshops as well as the marketing, production and visual merchandising that accompany the launch of Asprey's new jewel-encrusted handbag collection.
Following the fortunes of the staff, the store and its customers over the course of one summer, highlights include the nail-biting race to design and craft an intricate diamond necklace to hit the shop floor on time.
The documentary also puts the spotlight on the relationship between luxury brands and celebrities as actor Samuel L Jackson, a long-standing friend of Asprey, comes into the store to borrow a pair of cufflinks for an awards ceremony.
Jewellery is the most important part of Asprey's business, but competition is fierce and each year the pressure is on to produce a show-stopping jewellery collection. The real challenge is to keep an old-fashioned business alive and thriving in the modern world, where the move towards mass-production means that only the rich can afford handcrafted pieces.
This year jewellery director Justine Carmody has designed the Chaos collection featuring a mixture of stones that look as if they have been sprinkled over the jewels, creating a kaleidoscope of colours. The tension mounts as the true complexity of the Chaos necklace hits home and the production process falls a month behind schedule.
Spread across five Georgian townhouses, Asprey has been based at the New Bond Street premises for 160 years. The upstairs/downstairs divisions of the luxury jewellery house soon become apparent as we see Stuart, who left school at 15 to become a jewellery craftsman, beavering away in the Asprey workshop, while on the shop floor clients are served tea and macaroons as they pore over the intricate jewels, including a £4.6 million diamond ring.
"No one knows us, we're just hidden away. Sometimes you'd like to say 'yes I made that'," says Stuart, who has crafted jewels for the Queen, Prince Charles, Elton John and the Beckhams. Later in the programme, when he takes the finished Chaos necklace down to the shop floor, he comments: "You forget all the frustrations and aggravation that was caused along the way. When it's sitting on someone's neck looking great, it's worthwhile."
"The documentary offers a candid insight into the rare world of true luxury where, just like in the old days, the goods are still made by hand upstairs, while downstairs clients can pick and choose what takes their fancy," says The Jewellery Editor's Maria Doulton, who enjoyed a preview of the documentary last week. "The day-to-day runnings of this ancient British company remind us how important the luxury industry is to both our economy and to keeping alive generations-old skills."