Written by Harriet Speight
The story behind the success of British handmade jewellery company, The Great Frog.
History and Heritage
The Great Frog embodies the spirit of Rock ’n’ Roll through their hand crafted jewellry. In 1972, the journey began on London’s infamous Carnaby Street as a response to the emergence of the heavy metal scene. Their brand was created to serve as an alternative to mainstream jewellry for subcultures including heavy metal, rock ‘n’ roll, rockers, punks and bikers. It was the beginning of entirely new genre.
In the beginning the classic skull ring became their most iconic piece, as their reputation solidified and word spread the ring became a must have amongst the legends of the industry. The Great Frog’s clientele over the years is nothing short of iconic, it includes artists such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin. Not only this, but they have also gone on to collaborate with many of these outstanding artists to create beautiful, unique pieces. It can be seen plainly from their Instagram that they remain close friends with many of the artists today.
Craftsmanship and Design
The craftsmanship is incredible. Each piece is made specially upon order in the London workshop located beneath their ominous black fronted store. Currently managed by the second generation of the family, Reino Lehtonen-Riley, son of founder Paterson Riley. Reino learnt the trade of jewellery making at an early age from his father but a lot of his inspiration comes from travel, the cities and their architecture as well as his passion for motorbikes and everything surrounding them. Each piece is usually chunky and stands out significantly. Unfortunately, using the age old cliche that is, ‘statement piece’ cannot be avoided.
A lot of the designs feature animals for example wolves, bulls and eagles as well as many variations of the classic skull ring, (as shown below). When you feast your eyes upon these wonderful creations, they are so detailed you can physically see the effort that that has gone into them. When you wear the pieces it almost feels as though you channelling the spirit of punk and metal as they fill you with a certain confidence, belonging and an outlet of expression.
Customers and Loyalty
For The Great Frog less is most certainly not more. Most of their customers are unlikely to own just one of their pieces but instead collect them choosing pieces to suit one another and wearing several rings at a time. Their Instagram boasts many pictures taken my both The Great Frog themselves and their customers to inspire ideas for the perfect collection. Often nail inspiration is included too as an added bonus. The desire to build such a collection has lead to a cult following of sorts for The Great Frog. Their customers are so loyal to their jewellery which often retails for around £200 a piece.
Reino believes the cult following and the fact generations continue to become collectors is down to the motif and attitude remaining relatable, to show individuality. He believes society currently has access to fast fleeting trends but there is a genuine appreciation for the authenticity of The Great Frog. They have a real backstory filled with passion and struggles.
Today’s customers have changed slightly from the early days. It used to be that you were able to spot a Great Frog customer on Carnaby Street from a mile away, the were either a goth, biker or metal head of some description. Now, everyone and anyone could be a customer. However, the designs remain as bold and outlandish as ever.
To buy The Great Frog is to invest in it, along with its entirely authentic British heritage, a passionate, unfiltered creativity and of course the unrivalled, quality jewellery.