Shaun Leane, renowned for his collaborations with fashion designer Alexander McQueen, is the jewellery designer favoured by the young British royals.
Leane hit the headlines last September when the story broke that he had designed the platinum diamond engagement ring for Princess Beatrice of York, using excellent-cut, ethically sourced diamonds, including a 2.5-carat solitaire from Botswana. The couple are set to marry on May 29. Princess Beatrice’s partner Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi (Edo) had approached Leane on the recommendation of a close friend for whom the designer had completed custom-made bridal and family pieces.

“The ring is a fusion of Art Deco influence that Edo likes, and Victorian influence that Beatrice likes,”

Leane told Gold Book Magazine.
“I had to get under the skin of the couple to understand the nature of their relationship to entwine that into the design,”

Leane added.

A classically-trained goldsmith who later built up his own brand with an edgy signature style characterised by fluid lines or curves ending in a point, pieces from Leane’s collections have been worn by the young royals, notably Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. During the bespoke design process, Leane kept Edo fully informed about the creation of the ring over many weeks, even sending him videos of the polishing process. In keeping with his style, the claws of Princess Beatrice’s ring are curved ending in a sharp point.

The burst of publicity surrounding the commission, has put the spotlight back on Leane, who is widely considered to be one of the UK’s top jewellery designers, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Stephen Webster, Theo Fennell and Glenn Spiro. Leane is remembered for having collaborated with celebrated fashion designer Alexander McQueen over many years. Bespoke work, like the ring for Princess Beatrice, represents about a third of Leane’s turnover and collections account for the remainder. Among other recent commissions, he worked on a necklace created around a huge yellow sapphire for an American couple, and a ring with a secret compartment for a male customer.

Leane is as proud of his collections as he is of his masterpieces, such as a well-publicized diamond-encrusted glove painstakingly honed for socialite and entrepreneur Daphne Guinness.He is delighted that many of his customers wear earrings from his moderately-priced collections every day.

He sees his legacy as being remembered for crafting jewellery that reflects the 21st century. Leane is inspired by the masters of jewellery design, such as Cartier in the 1920s and 1930s, extending to JAR today, whose pieces flourish in the high-value auctions market. But for the most part, he does not look closely at the work of emerging designers. “I don’t like to look at other people’s work too much as subconsciously you take that onboard and one way or another it will come out in your own work. I like to develop designs from my own ideas,” he says.

By David Brough