IT ALL STARTED WHEN…
My love for antique jewellery probably started when I was very young. My mother used to drag us children into antique shops, definitely unwillingly but something must have rubbed off.
After reading History at Bristol University I started collecting a few pieces when I could afford it. It wasn’t long before I decided to travel and while in Australia became very involved in sailing.
When I got back to the UK I decided to do both my FGA and Celestial Navigation as evening courses while working in an import/export business. The idea was to bring Australian clothing to the UK and take jewellery to Australia. However, in order to get started I took a stand at Portobello Market in 1983 and that lasted for years and I never made it back to Australia or sailing!
The antique markets in London in those days were very vibrant and busy. I did both Camden Passage and Portobello Markets until I had my first daughter. I gave up Camden Passage in 1993 as I was nearly robbed whilst heavily pregnant, but continued with Portobello and added Bond Street Antique Centre to the mix in 1986.
In 1990 I moved with a friend from Bond Street to Grays Antique Market. We had a miniature stand by the back stairs which only one of us could fit into at once! Gradually I was able to move to a better position and now Michele Rowan and I share a shop at the front of the market. I think we have been sharing the shop now for around 20 years.
Antique Jewellery is my passion. It is a constant learning curve and the excitement of finding something rare or different never palls. Each piece has its own idiosyncrasies and there are so many different aspects to this fantastic world.
I find historical jewellery the most interesting, especially that of the 17th and 18th centuries. Memorial jewellery, Stuart crystals and eye miniatures are all just so engaging. I also love diamonds, a good cushion cut can get the heart racing, as can a beautiful coloured stone like a fabulous ruby, sapphire or topaz. No stone though is as beautiful as its setting and the craftsmanship of antique jewellery is second to none. Each piece has survived this long and it is our duty to care for it for the generations to come.
I have had the pleasure of meeting so many different people while running my business. It is a privilege and as the business evolves more online I will miss that close contact. You make a wealth of friends in the antique industry and it is quite a close knit community.
My main priority with customers is to be open and honest and to try my very best to find the right piece of jewellery for them. These things are so personal and there’s nothing better than a happy customer. That is definitely a feel good moment.
All my pieces are guaranteed genuine and I don’t sell reproductions. If there is any dispute over a piece I would rather have it returned than any disagreement, obviously with the usual reservations.
I hold the FGA qualification. I am ashamed to say that although I did the DGA course I never took the exam. But I benefit from years of experience in the trade. Including my membership of the Society of Jewellery Historians and Lapada. I vet the antique fairs for Lapada and I’m also a member of the Treasury Vetting Committee at the British Museum.