“We have 2,000 products,” says Alexander Mavros, “and every single one has been designed by a member of my family.
“Whether it’s my dad, my mum, one of my brothers or me,” the Zimbabwean jeweller continues, “I think that’s crucial to the DNA of our company that we design something that we would want to wear ourselves, or give to our wives or girlfriends to wear.”
Alexander is one of the four sons of Patrick Mavros, a fourth generation Zimbabwean whose now-worldwide luxury brand began by virtue of an accident. Originally a baker, the Mavros patriarch became ill when engaged to his wife, Catja, and spent his time recuperating carving her a pair of earrings.
When a local hairdresser saw the pieces of jewellery, she – along with half the women in the salon – asked Mavros to make her a pair, too.
“Today, it is a family business,” Mavros continues, “involving both my parents and us four sons – and we make our pieces in Zimbabwe and Mauritius, and we have stores throughout Africa – with our flagship store in London.
“We make men’s and lady’s jewellery, we make beautiful home pieces – everything from teaspoons and cocktail swizzle sticks to napkin rings, beautiful sculptures and candelabras. They are mystical. They are magical. They are absolutely eye-watering.”
The way Mavros views the family business is simple. America has Tiffany. France has Hermes. But Africa, a vast continent “with so much mystery, intrigue and romance” had nothing.
We have 2,000 products, and every single one has been designed by a member of my family...
“So we had the wonderful opportunity to become Africa’s first luxury brand,” smiles the Zimbabwean.
“As the oldest European family in our country, we’ve always been fascinated by our country and the great history that Africa has had, and the astonishing amount of design and creativity that exists in Africa. And, I think for the first time, there is now a brand that has managed to put that on the international scene – and that really fills us with excitement.”
Mavros believes that the majority of African products tend to lean too far toward the curio or gimmicky side. Instead, the jeweller tells me, his family have tried to take native art or traditions, and update it for a modern – and luxury – market.
“My standout piece for men is our Elephant Hair Bangle,” Mavros elaborates, “which is available in sterling silver, yellow gold, or rose 18k gold. It is based on the iconic African Elephant Hair Bangle, which is a centuries-old bracelet which was crafted by elders when a young hunter or warrior killed his first elephant.
“It was believed that wearing the bangle would imbue the young warrior with the might of the elephant on his journeys across the deserts, savannahs and forests of Africa.
“For many years, since the days of Hemingway and Clark Gable, these great early proponents of Africa, would wear them. And it has been brilliantly redesigned by my brother Forbes, with a locking mechanism, and very distinct medallion feature. And I really don’t think there is a more attractive, more interesting piece of men’s jewellery out there.”
Africa is a continent with so much mystery, intrigue and romance...
Forbes Mavros, who lives in Mauritius, is one of the most prolific designers in the family, with brothers Pat and Ben based in Harare.
“Depending on the piece,” says Alexander of the design process, “we may do a brief sketch. But, as a family, we tend to start sculpting straight away. Many brands have a lot of sketch revisions when creating a new piece, but we’re very hands-on, so we tend to skip that stage.
“We have a room full of pieces that haven’t made it through because we don’t like them or they just don’t work,” Mavros adds. “However, there are also a lot of sculptures in that room that have gone all the way – and are now stocked around the world.”
And, from Warthog Cufflinks and Buffalo Belt Buckles for men, the new Pangolin Collection for women and cutlery for the kitchen, to paperweights, place card holders and pen pots, the Mavros brand is undeniably vast in output – but still very much a family business.
“We want people to be proud to own a piece of Mavros,” says the founder’s son frankly, “because we’re certainly very proud to be making it.”