She Will Rock You
Whilst debate rages as to whether Angelina Jolie truly is the most desirable female standing (or sitting) (or reclining) on our little globe, one thing is sure. She is, despite what many cynics may level at her, certainly one of the most genuinely philanthropic. Whilst she may have kicked off the craze for airlifting photogenic orphans from the Third World into Beverly Hills, her motives are very clear. She understands how press coverage of such committed acts of nurturing can utilise her astounding fame for good. Even when she’s indulging herself and her wealth, Jolie is careful to ensure a charitable effect emerges from it. To this end, LUSSO flew to Monte Carlo to meet the man who bejewels her perfect form.
Robert Procop IS jewellery. From his early teens, a fascination with precious stones led him to trading and sourcing rare gems. Such was his success, he was able to pay for his own university education. After opening his very first business on Rodeo Drive (selling stones), he became a sought-after designer in his own right. His first Presidential commission was for Reagan and since, he’s worked for all Ronnie’s successors. His client base stretches from Hollywood, through New York society to the very silent elite of the European dynasties. Following from that, he became CEO of Aspreys and Gerrard and Co, saving both from possible bankrupcy. Other than the Beverly Hills store, there is a laboratory and workshop of gemology in Geneva and an outlet in Hong Kong.
Whilst in Europe, Procop indulges his hobby. Tracking down the largest, purest and most covetable stones on the planet. No bumbling Clouseau, his sleuthing follows in the footsteps of his friend and mentor, Ian Balfour. An ex-Etonian and wartime naval hero, Balfour became the Indiana Jones of gemology, profiling the history, conflicts and sagas behind 80 of the biggest, most dazzling diamonds. Having officially been passed the mantle by the great man himself, Robert now sniffs through personal connections, family trees, secret histories and old auction records. His quiet charm has enabled him to get very private families to open up their safes and reveal long forgotten treasures. He records them (anonymously), photographs them and then takes his leave.
“Many of these stones could keep an entire family financially solvent for GENERATIONS.” he tells me. As his eyes widen, mine do to. This is a man who still finds wonder in rarity and exclusivity. I’m just dwelling on the phone number valuations.
“There’s always something bigger, purer, more stunning out there. Hiding quietly. Retaining its unique value.’
Already a fan and a customer, Angelina joined him to co-design a range of eponymous pieces that she could promote simply by wearing them. All the stones would be ethically sourced and 100% of the profits would go to the actress’s charity, the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. In fact, she’s planning to break ground on a school for girls in Qala Gadu, Afghanistan, using funds from jewelry sales. The plan is to benefit millions of children. In May 2011, Procop and Safia Al-Rashid launched The Style of Jolie jewelry collection, at the SEM-ART Gallery, in Monaco. Safia, an Algerian, is married to Saudi businessman Nassir Al-Rashid. Her impressive 80-footer is moored a 5 minute stroll away.
The collection is genuinely breathtaking. Taking an almost Deco sense of repetition, symmetry and simplicity, the motif of square Asscher and Cushion-cut gems, mounted in 18k rose and white gold dominates. The emeralds are some of the rarest and purest put on the open market. Fiery citrine crystal and shimmering large black gems display a sense of understatement rarely seen in the upper echelons of a market all too predisposed to bling.
These pieces are the antithesis of bling. These are discerning pieces for a quietly feminine yet, strong woman. A five-banded, rose gold and white quartz bracelet brings to mind Coco Chanel at her most sublime. Even considering the expense of such raw material and craftsmanship, the beauty of them and their ethical end-effect justify the price tags.
“Our commitment is always supporting the children’s charity, which remains the overall intention and purpose of the collection.”
But there’s always a place for art. Procop says the pair “strive for nothing less than artistic innovation with every jewel,” like the newest offering, a sleek emerald bracelet (above). “She is very classically chic,” he says of Jolie. “We cultivated this style, which echoes a woman’s timeless allure. When you see the collection, it has a distinction. When you look at it, you recognise that it’s the Style of Jolie.”
And what of the engagement of the World’s Most Famous Couple(TM) and the accompanying ring?
“Brad had a specific vision, which he realised over a year-long collaboration. He wanted every aspect of it to be perfect, so I was able to locate a diamond of the finest quality and cut it to an exact custom size and shape to suit Angelina’s hand. Brad was always heavily involved, overseeing every aspect of the creative design evolution. The side diamonds are specially cut to encircle her finger. Each diamond is of the highest gem quality.” His muse has become his mission. As he describes his handy work, those eyes widen again.