A man of many talents, and never one to shy away from an adventurous challenge, Charlie Lewis has been shopping at LLJ for almost a decade now. Whether he’s buying a sweet treat for a loved one or splashing out on a well-earned bespoke gift for himself we’ve grown accustomed to him stopping by the boutique and filling us in on everything he’s up to.

Not wanting to keep him just for ourselves {and we SO could have} we quizzed Charlie on his jewellery inspirations, historic tales of Greek Gods and finding motivation in the face of adversity.

We’ve had the pleasure of your custom for quite a few years now, what first bought you into Laura Lee Jewellery and what made you keep coming back {apart from the excellent service ;)?

My eldest and dearest friend, Keira Knightly, sent me your way in search of gold to adorn my nearest and dearest.

Deciding it was finally time for a piece of jewellery for yourself what was the idea behind your bespoke engraved Dionysus and Lapis Lazuli necklace you designed with Laura?

I was a bit a of naughty so and so at school. I was kicked out of one and laughed my way through several others. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I discovered passions for things that weren’t evolved from physical exertion.  Wine, art, history and stories.

I think I decided to have a pendant made because I’m scared of getting a tattoo. The story of the pendant Laura so excellently made for me was a draw on a few things:

Wine is my ultimate luxury – it’s an art form full of pretentiousness but the fundamentals derive from humans respecting and working with the land to produce something that I can spend hours with. Some people need films and books to escape – I need a glass of fine Burgundy.

Lapis Lazuli is the stone of love. I could stare at Yves Klein’s work for days. His blues are made of up of a pigment from darling old Lapis. It’s a stone that is mined in Afghanistan, a country I’ve been lucky enough to visit, and its journey to Venice was via the ancient Silk Road. This created the birth of true Blue – UltraMarine.  The Silk Road along with the countries and ethnic groups it moved, moulded and made absolutely fascinates me.

Image result for yves klein

There is a piece of work hanging in the National Portrait Gallery by Titian called Bacchus and Ariadne (I’ve always assumed he named it Bacchus because of the Italian link but the painting is clearly of the Greek counterpart Dionysus).

It’s a picture showing the story of Dionysus saving Ariadne. You’ve got a glorious half naked Dionysus swooping into Naxos, not by budget airline, by bloody gold chariot – pulled by cheetahs! He turns up to set free the gorgeous Ariadne who’s been cast and left on the Island by ex-love rat, Theseus.

Dionysus consummates his love for her by casting a crown into the sky which then forms the star constellation, Corona Borealis. Who does that? Dionysus was the symbol of wine and of good times. Titian was already a successful artist by the time of painting this masterpiece and was thus one of the few who could afford to use such expensive pigment to create never before seen blues. In this case, it’s the sky and Ariadne’s get up.

Maybe in today’s world colours are taken for granted but at the time it would have been a marvel to see a blue so deep and so mysterious. Furthermore, it’s fascinating to look, and think, of the incredible journey this colour took to get onto the canvas – there aren’t many things that remain so vibrant 500 years on.

Soooo….my pendant with Dionysus on one side and Corona Borealis on the other, is from a painting that tells a story and a journey that I rather like.

What was your relationship like with jewellery when you were growing up? As in did the men in your family wear signet rings perhaps? Or take pride in choosing their cufflinks?

I grew up with an elder sister and a female best friend (the above) which meant I was the butt of all jokes, a guinea pig and the centre of their dressing up imagination – I’ve been a 1920’s flapper girl, I’ve had every type of nail varnish and eye detail going painted on to me (never been vajazzled mind).

I broke free from such oppressive female rule in my teens but retained an eye for everything jewellery.

Charlie’s Sunrise Ring

Do you have a style icon? Not necessarily someone you’d like to dress like but someone’s style that you admire? 

Anyone who stands out from the crowd. The person who looks or dresses differently – that’s cool and completely not me. To quote Sharlene when I turned up one afternoon ‘You look like a Geography teacher’ (Admittedly I have one leg).

We met you when you had two legs and then you elected to have a lower leg amputation after years of problems following a snowboarding accident in your early 20’s. Besides the obvious in what ways has your life changed?

I get loads of sympathy sex and swim in circles. Joke.

Yeah – my life changed a lot after my accident. I went from someone who ran everywhere and who sport was my life to being someone who couldn’t do what came so naturally to me.  I couldn’t run and I couldn’t hit the same physical levels I was used to. So life changed for the better after the amputation, which was 10 years after the accident. I chose to amputate because I knew it would give me the opportunity to get back to sport and pushing myself the way that my DNA craves.

Do you think your motivation has changed since you had your amputation and if so in what way?

I’ve always been very motivated so I’m not sure anything has changed in that sense. I guess now I’m sans jambe I represent something and hold a flag for people who have gone through some physical discomfort. It’s motivating to think that the more I push the more the rules change and the understanding of what the body can do are proved.

What have you got in the pipeline for 2018?

Too much. My amputation gave me my leg back and let me run again which was a great sense of freedom. Freedom is to move and do as one wishes – I love to travel and didn’t do enough when I was hobbling about. I love using sport as a medium to explore and learn.  I’ve just got back from a marathon in Somalia. I trekked with the Hadza tribe along the Yaeda Valley in Tanzania through April and went cycling in Eritrea in March.

Charlie Lewis

I was swimming the Bosporus in July and then the driving the Silk Road from Pakistan, through China, across the Stans and ending in Venice at the end of the Summer. I’ll be taking part in my second Afghanistan marathon in November and have lots of other fun trips throughout the year.  I’m currently on a plane back from Uzbekistan which was magnificent. I’m also growing a tonne (‘literally’) of tomatoes and making honey (not hay) with my girlfriend in Abruzzo, Italy. I believe I may be the world’s first one-legged anaphylactic beekeeper.

Who’s your favourite ~ Sharlene or Rea?

I have ADHD… 

You can follow Charlie Lewis, our beautiful friend and wild explorer, on Instagram @cgblewis.