Ann Dexter-Jones Does Jewelry
by Jeffrey Slonim
photographs by Evan Sung
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.”
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