Claire Adler is a freelance journalist based in London. She specialises in writing about luxury, especially jewellery, watches and design.
Opportunities for social climbing while shopping have never looked this good. While sales of expensive jewellery and watches now routinely take place outside the boutique, knowing your jeweller up close and personal has become a dinner party topic all of its own. As luxury brands intent on securing lasting relationships with customers fall over themselves to offer the most luxurious experiences money simply can't buy, spectacular "guest list only" events are becoming increasingly common.
Every year, a week before Wimbledon at the Stoke Park Club country estate, international tennis stars play at an invitee-only tennis tournament, the Boodles Challenge. With time to browse and buy Boodles jewellery and Patek Philippe watches, this event is so luxurious that no seat is more than 10 metres from the game – so it's almost like being on Centre Court, only it's more elite. While I tried to act as if this happened every day, a chauffeur took me there and back in a Bentley Continental GT convertible.
Meanwhile, at a Montblanc party recently in Geneva, Bond girl and brand ambassador Eva Green helped launch the Rieussec – a timepiece named after the maker of the first ever chronograph, who used a system involving dropping ink on paper to measure the time of horse races. With a nod to Montblanc's world domination of the luxury pen industry (it boasts 70% market share), the Rieussec is clearly designed to assert Montblanc's position in the highest echelons of Swiss watch making – as was the party.
Each English summer, a brimming schedule of socialite events known as "the season" brings with it a slew of gilt edged VIP invites to polo related events, sponsored by the likes of Cartier, Jaeger le Coultre, IWC and Longines. Getting in on the act can mean the opportunity to network with the best and the brightest – or sometimes just the best looking.
But this June, for the first time, London was lit up with the sparkle of the capital's first ever Coutts London Jewellery Week. One of the week's highlights was when a 900 strong crowd descended on hipper than hip London auction house Phillips de Pury for Swarovski Runway Rocks. Models strutted the catwalk flaunting the life-size crystal creations of designers including starchitect Zaha Hadid and fashion darlings Marios Schwab and Christopher Kane.
Elsewhere, luxury jeweller Boodles celebrated the arrival of its fantastical new Wonderland collection at the Haymarket Hotel serving up margaritas and an old English delicacy – fish and chips. Musician Jackson Scott was so impressed he took a plunge into the pool, rock-star style.
All of which goes to prove my long-held belief that glamour combined with a healthy dose of humour can be utterly chic.