Stephen Brady is currently the brands longest serving employee, having worked for Deakin & Francis since he was 16 years old. As well as being Design Director, Stephen also manages the sourcing of gem stones, ensuring that only the best gems are used in the manufacture of Deakin & Francis cufflinks.
Starting at the manufacturing jewellers as an office clerk over 30 years ago, Stephen always had an interest in jewellery and tried his hand at a range of jobs around the office, before being promoted to stone buyer and sorter.
In order to source the very best stones, Stephen believes that you must be able to recognise quality stones and know their source. ‘Knowing what you’re looking for in a gem stone is really important to avoid fakes and ensure that the end product is of a high standard.’
Stephens favourite gem stone is turquoise. ‘Firstly because it’s my birthstone and secondly I love the Native American Indian history behind it.’ Legend has it that ‘Native American Indians danced and rejoiced when the rains came. Their tears of joy mixed with the rain and seeped into Mother Earth to become SkyStone or Turquoise.’ In this culture, turquoise is more valuable than gold and signifies success.
Over the years Stephen has seen many changes at Deakin & Francis including the transition from manufacturing jeweller to a brand, a change which Stephen believes is the company’s biggest achievement. Stephen says, ‘The change from run of the mill manufacturing jewellers to specialising in men’s accessories and being recognised worldwide was a terrific accomplishment for Deakin & Francis.’
Stephen has personally experienced many changes in his job role which has seen him working closely alongside James Deakin as Design Director, as well as managing requests for bespoke pieces. ‘I’ve always been good at drawing and working hands on with jewellery all day everyday means that I’m constantly thinking of new designs. James and I discuss new designs quite frequently and I also draw inspiration from vintage Deakin & Francis catalogues and photographs’
When creating bespoke jewellery, Stephen starts off with a sketch based on photographs or ideas the customer has taken inspiration from. ‘It takes 4-6 weeks to create a bespoke piece of jewellery from sketch to finished piece, and we get requests like this 2-3 times a week, usually for cufflinks but we also do the occasional ring or pendant.’
Stephens most proud of the ‘Mooning Monkey’ cufflinks as they’re ‘extremely light hearted and a tad risqué!’ His favourite pair of cufflinks are a pair of Turquoise Red Indians, gifted to him from James & Henry Deakin. ‘Cufflinks aside, my favourite piece of jewellery is actually a gold Leeds United pendant!’
The most extravagant pieces of jewellery Stephen has been asked to create include gold carved photo frames set with gem stones for a customer in the Middle East, and fine pave diamond cufflinks for top-secret megastars.