Back in April, the royal-to-be wore three pieces of jewelry from luxury British jeweler Shaun Leane, including a pair of talon earrings that might just be her most fashion-forward jewelry look to date.
“I think Meghan is very bold and daring — she’s obviously open to exploring different ways of wearing pieces and she’s breaking traditions,” Leane tells PEOPLE from his atelier in London’s Mayfair, adding of her gold hook-style earrings: “They are very sexy and there’s something quite tribal about them – that’s where my inspiration came from.”
Wearing his work for the first time when she stepped out with her then-fiancé Prince Harry for the Queen’s 92nd birthday party concert at the Royal Albert Hall on April 21, Leane said although he knew she had been gifted the pieces by her close friend Markus Anderson, he was not expecting her to wear them quite so quickly.
“A friend of hers came in to buy some pieces for her as a birthday gift and two days later she was wearing them!” he says. “For me that was really exciting. And not only was she wearing one of my pieces, she was wearing all three!”
In addition to the jeweler’s Yellow Gold Vermail Talon Earrings ($290), Meghan was also wearing Leane’s signature Yellow Gold Vermeil Diamond Tusk Bangle ($1281) and his Yellow Gold Vermeil Serpents Trace Slim Bracelet ($708), both of which were inspired by Leane’s 20-year relationship working alongside the late British designer, Alexander McQueen.
“What I love about Meghan is that she is very elegant and chic, but she has an edge of daring and the way she mixes classic and innovative pieces is quite brave and fearless,” says Leane, adding: “It was very flattering and I always knew deep down that our work would be a perfect fit for her.”
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She obviously agrees, as Meghan was seen publicly wearing the Tusk Bangle again on her 37th birthday earlier this month, when she accompanied Harry to the wedding of his close friend Charlie van Straubenzee.
Based on a piece the jeweler made for McQueen back in 1995, he says, “That’s a really iconic piece.” It was also the item that sold particularly well in the weeks after Meghan was photographed wearing it.
“Traffic and sales increased quite remarkably and it’s been consistent,” he says. “It introduced those styles to a global audience and we’ve had an array sales from silver to rose gold and her favorite, the yellow gold.”
Having trained as an apprentice in London’s Hatton Garden 35 years ago, he was often asked to work on royal commissions via Garrard and Asprey. Then in 2012, he became creative director at Asprey, designing the Woodland collection, from which Kate Middleton bought his charm necklace.
“For me, having my early work with the royals making very traditional beautiful high-end pieces and then to see Meghan, this new generation of royalty wearing the House of Shaun Leane is a nice full circle for me – I feel very honored.”