English Jeweler Glenn Spiro on Hanging With Jay-Z, His Vintage Jaguar, and Why He Doesn’t Set His Rolexes

A jeweler for over four decades, Londoner Glenn Spiro has long been the go-to for in-the-know collectors looking for something a little unusual. His G by Glenn Spiro boutiques can be found in many a tony enclave, from his by-appointment atelier in a historic mansion in Mayfair to St. Barts, Saint-Tropez, and a space at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, one of his favorite stateside haunts. Having grown up poor in Bethnal Green in East London, Spiro got his entrée into the realm of elite gems at age 15, when he was hired as an apprentice by English Art Works, a jewelry workshop owned by Cartier. By age 22, he had opened his own atelier with a business partner 10 years his senior in Farringdon, in London. Spiro is a colorful and charming character, and his pieces—often set with rare and important stones—are designed with a modernity that eludes many other houses. It’s why celebrities such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Princess of Wales are fans, collectors, and, in one case at least, lifelong friends.

But beneath his laid-back demeanor lies a self-confessed perfectionist who seldom unwinds. Here, a glimpse into the world he has built around himself and the people who rock it.

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What have you done recently for the first time?

I’ve learned to play padel tennis. I was in France, where I played every morning with a group. I loved it.

What apps do you use the most? 

WhatsApp, definitely, and Spotify, because I love music. The third I would say is the camera. I see a shape, or a chair or something I like, and I’ll take a picture. It may just help me create something.

First thing you do in the morning? 

I have a bad back, so I have to stretch. And I lie down with my dogs—a beautiful Lab and an English bulldog—and give them a hug. And I always ring my father, who is sick now, and wake him up.

What do you do that’s still analog? 

I collect old watches, and I don’t even set the time. I just like to look at them as a piece of art, and I love them on my wrist sometimes. I have just a few old Rolexes, special ones.

His 1982 Rolex Daytona

His 1982 Rolex Daytona

What in your wardrobe do you wear most often? 

A brown corduroy jacket from Etro I bought 15 years ago. It’s faded now and looks great. When you lift the collar up, it’s bright yellow underneath.

How do you find calm? 

Smoking a joint every now and then.

What’s your favorite cocktail, and how do you make it? 

I don’t really drink alcohol; I don’t like the taste. When I was single, it was quite embarrassing asking a beautiful girl out and asking for black-currant juice. So, I had to find a drink. I’m a big Sinatra fan, and there’s a movie where he leans over the bar and asks if his whiskey sour is coming. So, that’s become my drink now. I have two or three of them, and I don’t feel anything.

What’s the most recent thing you’ve added to your collection? 

A Frank Auerbach. He’s one of the most gifted artists to come out of the U.K.

Spiro and his Kaws figure
Spiro and his Kaws statue

The most recent thing you regret not buying? 

Microsoft shares 25 years ago.

Who is your dealer, and what do they source for you? 

[Laughs] I’ve got some in different countries, actually. Over the years, I’ve met some really cool guys. The greatest dealer became a lifelong friend, George Ruiz. We bought stones together.

A necklace set with amber, citrines, and diamonds
A necklace set with amber, citrines, and diamonds

What is your exercise routine, and how often do you do it? 

I do train a lot. I have a gym in my houses in France and London. I do a lot of circuit training. I’m quite fit.

What does success look like to you? 

I realized I was successful when my dad became ill and I took control of my parents’ lives so it was all taken care of. They had nothing, and now they have everything.

If you could learn a new skill, what would it be? 

Playing music is my dream. If I could sit at a bar one night a week, where nobody knows me, play the piano, and sing Sinatra songs with a bottle of wine, that would be my dream.

Where do you get your clothes? 

I’m a very simple guy, but I’m a big buyer of Brunello Cucinelli. I love him, and I think he makes me look good, too.

A favorite Etro corduroy jacket
A favorite Etro corduroy jacket

When was the last time you completely unplugged? 

I don’t think I ever completely unplug, actually. The truth is, when you get older and you feel like you want to unplug, it’s very hard to then get re-plugged in. If you think of older people, the worst choice is that we’re retired. If you’re super happy and content and blah, blah, blah, then great. I’m not. I’m a worrier, so I feel like I always need to be plugged in a little bit.

How would you describe your look? 

I think I look quite cool, actually. Cool and classic.

How would others describe your look? 

I think they just say, “He’s Glenn. He’s got his own look.”

What car are you most attached to? 

An E-Type Jaguar 1969 Roadster. It’s silver, blue inside, and her name is Stella.

The 1969 E-Type Jaguar Roadster
Spiro’s 1969 E-Type Jaguar Roadster

Who do you admire most, and why? 

One is Jay-Z. We’ve been friends for 15 years. I’ve watched the guy grow as a man with a really difficult situation, because being famous must be a nightmare. But he’s a put-together, cool, confident, elegant, and classy guy who’s really grown into a special man.

Last piece of advice you gave? 

I told my son, “Be true, be humble, and respect the dollar. Respect the dollar because it will house you, feed you, and make you well.”

What sort of music makes you happy? 

It’s very difficult to pick a genre because where you are, or what your mood is, changes everything. But I like good, soft, chill Motown, house, believe it or not. It’s sort of a mixture of Motown and house music. And I love Sinatra. I love jazz.

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