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by Jeffrey Slonim
photographs by Evan Sung | September 5, 2011 | Style & Beauty
Ann Dexter-Jones working on her current and future creations in her office
|A selection of solid sterling ID bracelets, adorned with precious and semiprecious gems|
|Ann Dexter-Jones reconfi guring her Rock Star necklaces|
Ann Dexter-Jones, jewelry designer and former rock ’n’ roll wife, eases open the heavy door of her rambling Victorian Greenwich Village duplex. She wears a red Diane von Furstenberg dress in a retro tiger pattern, and her mane of blond curls matches the scale of her reworked Victorian aerie: expansive. The lair appears crisp , with mahogany mantles painted in a rock-guitar metallic. Art hangs on her walls, including pieces by George Condo, Ed Ruscha, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Harry Benson CBE and William S. Burroughs, the late author of Naked Lunch.
Here to show her Ann Dexter-Jones Design jewelry line (which she says is appropriate for “women and very secure men”), She unfolds a purple jewelry bag and slides out the f lat silver and gold watches of her design. One face is lapis and another is mother-of-pearl with champagne diamonds. “Kate Moss has it in onyx with all black diamonds,” she says. The hand on the face remains stationary. “I call it my homage to Wilson Pickett’s song ‘In the Midnight Hour,’” she explains. “It’s always on midnight, so you never have to leave the party.”
Dexter-Jones welcomes guests with an ease stemming from generations of well-bred indulgence. Her grandfather, an amateur mountaineer, was a crown jeweler to Kaiser Franz Josef of Austria. Her great uncle Oscar Dietch founded the Odeon Cinemas chain in London (Odeon is an acronym for “Oscar Dietch Entertains Our Nation”). Her father, a doctor and eye surgeon born in Vienna, raised five children in England with his stunning wife, Judith Lurie. When Dexter-Jones was 10, he announced, “It is my duty as a father to show you there is a bigger world out there, other landscapes, cultures, religions and social economies.” In search of paradise, “He put his finger down on a spinning globe,” says Dexter-Jones, “and he went to the closest point of the British Commonwealth—Australia.”
By age 11 she and her four siblings had survived a fiery plane crash in Singapore. Her mother, who grew ill while traveling, died shortly after; her father, “a ship without an anchor,” continued to spin the globe. By the close of her peripatetic youth, Dexter-Jones had attended 14 schools across the globe including three colleges in England, Australia and New Zealand. “I remember the paved mosaic sidewalks of Curaçao,” she says. “The gleaming exotic jewels and gold in Sri Lanka and India—the bazaars and temples.”
|Inspired to create her rich rock pearls, Dexter-Jones channels Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s|
With the Band
The rock chapter of her life began when London socialite Laurence Ronson, who had a video distribution company and managed the band Bucks Fizz, noticed her at a wedding. They married and had three children: recording artist and producer Mark Ronson and twins, DJ and recording artist Samantha Ronson, and fashion designer Charlotte Ronson. When that union dissolved, Dexter-Jones married Mick Jones of Foreigner, who wooed her by sending orchids every day for six months. He wrote “I Wanna Know What Love Is” with her in mind, and dedicated the song to her.
The hip couple had two children of their own— Annabelle and Alexander—and raised their blended brood of five in New York. Dexter-Jones is very proud of her children. DJ/producer Alexander is finishing his first album; Mark, who is engaged to Joséphine de la Baume, is a Grammy-winning producer; Samantha continues to DJ; Charlotte has built a successful international fashion line; and actress Annabelle, “just screened a short she filmed in Paris called The Shoe.”
Designs on Designing
Dexter-Jones’s eye for jewelry developed on the road with Foreigner. She began collecting ID bracelets, re-creating them later in precious metals with gems. Annabelle has a silver and lapis version with yellow diamonds. Samantha has one in black onyx and diamonds. Mark owns one in hematite and silver. Charlotte prefers hers with pink opal and rubies. Alexander’s is mahogany with rubies.
Dexter-Jones—who also happens to be a master of Reiki, the Japanese art of life-force healing—takes another pouch and spills out “fairy bracelets” of circular gold wire strung with aquamarines, topaz, quartz and turquoise. The stones are hand-cut by artisans into six-sided, triangular and circular cuts to recall zodiac signs. “The gold and silver is assembled by a craftsman who creates the prototypes for Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier,” she says. “I then Reiki the stones to energize them.”
Fans of her jewelry (from which she donates 20 percent of the profits to charity) include Anna and Ronald Perelman, Kate Moss, Roger Waters’ fiancée, Laurie Durning, and stylist Amanda Ross; Ringo Starr has told her he wears her silver star necklace at all his shows. Says the designer, “Actress Tara Mercurio tells me she never takes them off except to sleep.” Ann Dexter-Jones Design jewelry is available at Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., 212-826-8900; anndexterjonesdesign.com