Style & Grooming

Four Men on Why They Love Wearing Cult Jewellery Brand The Great Frog

A quartet of The Great Frog’s biggest fans tell Another Man about their relationship with rock and roll jewellery label

The Great Frog was born in 1972, in the wake of the Swinging Sixties, offering a different kind of jewellery – inspired by rock and roll, which was then at the very apex of its cultural influence. Helmed by Paterson Riley and Carol Lehtonen-Riley, who set up shop on Carnaby Street, the epicentre of this movement, The Great Frog catered not just to rockers, but to the many other subcultures exploding on British soil – from punks to bikers. Fast forward 40 years and the brand is still going strong, now helmed by Paterson and Carol’s son Reino Lehtonen-Riley. Crafting rings, pendants, bracelets, earrings and chains, which draw heavily on the optics of heavy metal, The Great Frog has developed a legion of fans (which kind of reads like a who’s who of music: Iggy Pop and Iron Maiden, Kate Bush and KISS, Metallica and Motörhead have all worn the brand). Here, four of The Great Frog’s most loyal customers tell Another Man why exactly they love The Great Frog so much...

Wayne Nicholas, personal trainer (lead image)

“My sister bought me [a Skull Stud] earring from The Great Frog as a Christmas gift 15 years ago and I have been hooked ever since. Once I was in the store with my two-year-old son. Initially, other people in the store thought I was quite intimidating but then they saw the warm, gentle, loving way I was interacting with my son and found it very sweet and lovely. [My collection consists of] various Skull Earrings, small Top Jaw Skull Ring, two large Anatomical Skull Rings, Wes Lang ‘Indian chief’ Ring, Wes Lang ‘Demon Mask’ Ring, Lion Ring, Large Skull Bracelet, Skull Signet Ring, Skull Key Ring and a Rose Stud. [The next piece I want to buy is] a Romulus and Remus Ring.”

Nigel Lupton, biker

“[I discovered The Great Frog] by chance, when we were shopping on Carnaby Street one day. [The first piece I bought was a] Horizontal Eye Ring. When we got married in 2008, we came down to see Pat about him making our wedding rings, only to be told he had been taken ill with a stroke. I managed to get mine [a Celtic Band Ring with Stone) off the shelf and my wife got hers later, when we went to see Pat down in Brighton. For my 57th birthday, I got the bike out of the garage and had a great day riding down to London to visit The Great Frog and get my photo taken outside the shop. Jess made it very special by going and getting a birthday cake for me and we shared it with the rest of the customers in the shop. [My current collection consists of a] Wes Lang ‘Reaper’ Ring, Spider Ring, Scorpion Ring, Motörhead ‘Warpig’ Ring, Lion Ring, Horizontal Eye Ring (in blue), Fire Demon Ring, Eye Pendant (in red and blue), Dragon Ring, a Large Evil Skull Ring, a 4 Skull Crucifix Ring, two Thick Link Bracelets.”

Sean Taylor, sales manager for a London motorcycle dealer

“My dad had a few old pieces but I found the Soho shop myself and have been going ever since. The first piece I purchased was an Ace of Spades Ring which I sadly lost. I just love the family business [aspect] of it all. When I was growing up, I remember seeing all the guys I wanted to be wearing big rings and chains and bracelets, and that’s all I ever wanted. There isn’t a day that I’m not wearing all my rings, two or three bracelets and two or three chains – I feel naked without them. The most memorable [moment in the store] for me was buying the Rosary. I had been bugging the guys about it for so long, promising I’d buy one once I’d saved some money up. When it came to actually buying it, the guys were great and made me feel great, even congratulating me. Then on the day of collection, Luke called to tell me it was ready and it was like all my birthdays and Christmases rolled into one. The guys had it ready and had even written my name in silver on the box. It was all very magical and they seemed genuinely happy for me to have one at last. That was a fantastic moment, one I won’t forget. [I have around 60 pieces in total] and fancy the 13 Evil Skull Ring or the Brat Style Ring. I’m also looking to get the Rock ‘n’ Roll I.D Bracelet for my dad’s 75th birthday.”

Ben “Deadbeat” Levey, construction manager, writer and brand owner

“I first heard about The Great Frog through a family friend who had been a fan of the bracelets in the early 90s. After seeing some photos in an album (back when we actually printed photos), I made a beeline for the Soho store. I’ve never looked back. The first piece I bought was an Iron Maiden ‘Killers Eddie’ ring. I grew up in the area [that] Iron Maiden came from and played their first show, so they have been ingrained in my DNA for as long as I can remember. It’s still my favourite ring, too! I wear my pieces as part of my everyday look; I’m a big dude with a large presence, they really help set off my look and style. From wearing a pair of trashed jeans and band T-shirt to a full three-piece suit, they look great. My rosary is my talisman, I never take it off. I use it to help me think, and as something to hold and focus on when stressful situations arise – it’s a protection amulet for when I need a boost of confidence. It always makes me feel lucky and reminds me to live by my motto of ‘be fly or die’.”