Why are you working in the auction world?
Even as a child I loved rummaging in my local bric a brac shop. When I left university I planned to become an English teacher, but having worked at Bonhams as a summer job, I was tempted back there for a couple of years. This turned into a stint of 8 years and I later returned as a consultant. Although I have worked in many areas of the antiques world, I still find auctions exciting and I love the fact that there will be a surprise item in every sale.
Within your career to date, which item would you class as your favourite?
I have been involved in auctions for my whole career and find it impossible to single out one single highlight. However, I am always thrilled when we rescue an item that had been forgotten, or as has happened on a number of occasions uncover the hidden diamond or gem stone in the bottom of a biscuit tin full of costume jewellery!
What first attracted you to your speciality?
I have always wished I had a better answer to this question, but the truth is that I was originally assigned to the ceramics department, and I knew that ceramics weren’t for me, so when an opportunity arose in the silver, jewellery and watches department I thought it might be a better fit and so it proved to be. I have also found that the more you learn the more curious you become. I have genuinely developed a passion for my subject over the years and love the fact that there is always more to learn.
A set of four Danish Georg Jensen Acorn design plates. Sold for £2,400.
What aspect of your job do you find most satisfying?
As well as the wonderful objects that I see, I love the people I meet and the stories that come with their items. I enjoy the sleuthing aspect of my job, working out where pieces fit into family histories. People often buy jewellery when they travel and imagining pieces having been bought on the grand tour or travelling in the Orient conjours up wonderful images.
If money were no object what would you most like to buy?
I would want to buy something I could wear. I love Belle Epoque jewellery and I love enamel work so I think I’m talking myself into a piece of Fabergé. Maybe an egg pendant as that also combines my love of the history in jewellery.
Fabergé's Le Collier Plume d'Or, sold for £70,000 in 2012 - at Fabergé's 'Big Egg Hunt' charity auction
What should a potential collector/buyer look to purchase and why?
Buy what you love and what will give you pleasure. Look for quality over quantity and remember your collection may expand so find something you will be able to house. Always remember it’s worth spending a little more that you would ideally wish to spend on quality and beware the damaged ‘bargain’.
What are the best items to sell via an auction house?
Fine quality items that haven’t seen the light of day for years. Don’t worry about cleaning your silver or about the odd missing stone. Signed pieces always for well too. The great thing about the art market is its fluidity. However, fashions may come and go as they do elsewhere, but quality will always be sought after.
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