My London: Emmet Smith – Founder of Rebus

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Emmet Smith has worked in the jewellery trade since 1986 and after studying at the Sir John Cass School of Art in Whitechapel, undertook a 5 year apprenticeship with R.H. Wilkins, the company he went on to buy. Rebus Signet Rings was founded by Emmet in 2005 as a department within R. H. Wilkins, the renowned engravers to Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and The Wimbledon Championships. Based in London’s Hatton Garden, the word ‘Rebus’ means a device that uses pictures and symbols to represent a word or phrase, so it seemed a natural choice for the signet ring brand.

We caught up with Emmet for the latest in our ‘My London’ interview series.


Favourite neighbourhood:

Where I live in Homerton. It’s where I bought my first house and brought up my son. When you live in an area for a long period of time, you really get to know all the hidden gems.


Favourite place for brunch:

Bed. Get me out of bed on a Sunday at your peril.


Best coffee in London:

The Department of Coffee & Social Affairs. It’s on the same street as our workshop in Leather Lane, I’ve been going there since they opened.


Favourite gallery or museum:

The last exhibition I saw (Chihuly NOW) I liked the gallery, it’s called Halcyon Gallery on Bond Street. But my regular places I love going to are the Wellcome Collection opposite Euston Station & the Last Tuesday Society on Mare Street, Hackney.


Tell us a secret:

I used to be a pigeon exterminator in San Francisco – slightly controversial, but I was young and wanted to travel.


Favourite place to shop:

Anywhere that has junk/bric-a-brac/antique shops. I also find auctions exciting places.


Favourite place to find inspiration:

I escape to Crete every year. My latest signet collection was inspired by the sharp, angular lines of the Kournas Mountains.


Best London destination for a date:

The Last Tuesday Society, may be not ideal as a first date destination though, as the walls and ceiling are covered in taxidermy.


Favourite park:

Not really a park – Hackney Marshes. If I’m not allowed that one then it would be Springfield Park which overlooks Walthamstow Marshes. I do like a marsh.


Favourite food market:

Leather Lane – you walk out of the workshop on a lunchtime and are surrounded by stalls selling everything from Spanish tortilla to jambalaya.


Your sanctuary in the city:

The Elderfield. I love a good pub and this one is a favourite for going to catch up with friends.


What inspires you?

The effort & work produced by my apprentices. It’s a difficult skill to zone out of the workshop hubbub and completely focus on engraving, but the work our apprentices go on to produce has won them a Goldsmith awards.


This season I’m loving:

I don’t really follow fashion trends, but I love a ponyskin shoe. I have a man I go to make me a pair in a new colour every year.