A louche mix of art, fashion and music inspired the rock n roll jewellery brand True Rocks that celebrities love. Marina Gask meets its design director and co-founder, punk designer and entrepreneur Emily Bradbury.
When Emily Bradbury met Dawn Hindle, flying sparks were inevitable. Dawn’s the founder and creative director of music and lifestyle brand Ibiza Rocks, which includes the legendary rock n roll haven Pikes Hotel in Ibiza. Married to Specials drummer John ‘Brad’ Bradbury, fashion and jewellery designer Emily was staying at the iconic hotel in 2014 when the band were hosted there. And the pair instantly bonded over safety pins. “Ever since I’d opened 70s punk shop Stark Naked in Camden I’d been wearing a 22 carat safety pin I’d made myself on a chain round my neck. Through all those years I literally never took it off, it was my favourite piece, and it’s the reason why I call myself a posh punk,” she explains. “When I saw that all the cushions at Pikes were covered in safety pins it was like a lightbulb moment; our mutual love of the safety pin dictated that we had to work together”.
Emily’s passion for jewellery started with an apprenticeship in Hatton Gardens as a teenager, having left school with virtually no qualifications. “It was in the glorious days when you could do anything you wanted and talk yourself into almost any job,” she grins. Emily and her sister also waitressed at ‘70s cocktail bar Peppermint Park with then-budding photographer Mario Testino. There followed a job at H Knowles Brown, a beautiful old school jeweller’s in Hampstead where they made their own jewellery. “That’s where I got hooked,” she says. But first a foray into fashion. Stark Naked was Emily’s first shop and a key part of the Camden punk movement, famous for its iconic fluorescent leopard and tiger print T-shirts.
Fast forward to 2014 and a beautiful meeting of minds and lifestyles between Emily and Dawn, one half of the dynamic duo behind Manumission, the brand famous for its mind blowing, hedonistic parties. “We both had full-time careers. I had a property business, while doing collaborations with leading British artists through my vintage punk company Constant & True”.
The genius idea for True Rocks came when Emily bought a limited edition perspex Rich Tea biscuit by iconic artist Gavin Turk at the Art Car Boot Fair in 2006. “It was bitten into and signed, and I thought ‘That would make the most amazing piece of jewellery’ so I rang Gavin all excited. And that’s how our first True Rocks collaboration was launched”. Available in limited edition 18ct gold, and signed by Turk so they’re collectors’ pieces, one of the iconic pendants was instantly snapped up by Idris Elba. “They’re perfect, so quintessentially British” she says.
True Rocks’ second collaboration with Turk was London Bricks and other artist collaborations include taxidermist-artist Polly Morgan’s Stark Staring snake eyes necklace and Rachel Howard’s The Humble Hanger. They are also in talks with Damian Hurst. ’The ethos is to work with any artist that inspires us. It’s an instinctual thing. We don’t go hunting for them or have a game plan for so many artists a year - we just do it when we’re inspired by something”.
Those inspirational things that turn into those ultra-cool iconic pieces of jewellery are artefacts of the rock lifestyle they’ve always loved - plectrums, pills, razor blades and drumsticks, the latter designed by her husband, the late Specials drummer Brad himself. Ranges include Coachella and Victorian Punk, with a new Pop Art collection out soon. “It’s a history in jewellery, like a photo album of our lifestyles, taking two journeys through art, fashion and music. It’s every phase of our lives right there”.
Snapped up by women and men alike - about 35% of True Rocks sales are to men - every piece in the range sells like hot cakes. “We have a great celeb clientele especially among music business people like Haim, Junior Sanchez, Mark Ronson, Lily Allen and DJ David Guetta and actors like Idris Elba and Richard Madden of Game of Thrones fame.
Summer 2018 saw True Rocks make a splash in St Tropez, with a pop-up collaboration with FB Aura in Tahiti Beach, St Tropez. “We’ve extended into the bespoke luxury end of the market. Clients are asking us to cast our pieces for them in gold and diamonds”.
And there are more new collections on the True Rocks horizon. “We’re now working on a beautiful new a gun metal grey and gold range. The enamels and two tones are causing a riot. Next up we’re working on modernising the charm necklace and bracelet, through despair of what’s available in the charm world”. Some how we don’t think True Rocks will disappoint.
This feature was first published in Luxury Plus magazine