Nicky Houston
Nicky Houston BA(hons) MRICS

Department Head Jewellery, Watches & Silver



Our Head of Jewellery, Watches & Silver... Nicky is a highly respected Auctioneer & Valuer, who had dreams of becoming an artist.

Whilst she may not have made it as a successful artist herself, Nicky has helped many a customer to successfully sell and buy beautiful pieces of jewellery and works of art over her many years working within the auction industry.


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Why are you working within the auction world?

I have spent my entire career working in the auction world.  I love meeting the people who are selling, those who are buying and the objects themselves.  They all have a story to tell, and I am truly privileged to be a part of that story, whilst the objects move on to live another life with a new owner.


Within your career to date, which ITEM would you class as your favourite?

I must nominate two items because they belonged to the same client and were sold in the same sale. The client is absolutely charming, and these pieces had been in the family probably from when they were first produced. I understand how difficult it must be to sell items which have been handed down through the generations, but these pieces had been sitting in storage and hadn’t seen the light of day for years. The first piece was an 18th century Irish silver epergne, which caused a lot of excitement on the day and sold for £11,500. The wonderful thing about English silver is that the hallmarks can tell you exactly when the piece was produced and the great thing about Irish silver is that it has a quirky charm of its own. This particular piece was produced in Dublin in 1771 and despite needing some repair it attracted a lot of interest. The other piece was the most wonderful piece of antique jewellery. It was a late Georgian/early Victorian pendant brooch made with the most enormous cabochon garnets surrounded by diamonds. I adore antique pieces of jewellery especially the pieces that have survived fashion changes and remain in their original form. This was a real collectors’ piece, and I was delighted when it made £7,500. It is really satisfying to know that both pieces will have found new homes where they will be loved and appreciated.


What first attracted you to your speciality?

I started studying for my jewellery exams because although I was a general valuer most clients also have jewellery and I thought it would be useful. I immediately fell in love with the science behind the gemmology and the fact that when you closely examine a gemstone you can actually see the science behind how that gemstone is formed. 

An Irish George III silver epergne
An Irish George III silver epergne

Sold for £11,500

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What aspect of your job do you find most satisfying?

I do find it sad that some pieces of jewellery never see the light of day when they should be cherished and worn, and with that in mind, I love discovering genuine pieces, especially when a client believes it may be costume jewellery… There is nothing more satisfying than being able to delight that client by informing them that it is the real thing. I met a client in our Hampstead office who needed a probate valuation on his late mother’s jewellery. I was assured that it was mainly costume jewellery, but when I started to examine the jewellery, it became clear that there were some truly special pieces within. We were later instructed to sell some of the pieces, and as I suspected when first discovering it, a French Art Deco Egyptian revival pendant, which had been languishing in the bottom of a jewellery box for years, attracted a huge amount of interest amongst bidders across the globe… eventually selling for over £39,000. 


"I always advise people to buy what they really love and to spend as much as they can afford at the time.  You will always remember the pieces you loved but did not buy."

If money were no object, which ITEM would you most like to own? WHY?

I would love to own a Cartier Tutti Fruitti necklace, or even a bracelet would do!  I love the combination of emeralds, rubies and sapphires… instead of being faceted in the traditional way, they are engraved and sculpted into leaves, buds and berries with diamond accents. I adore the colour and playfulness of the designs.

What should a potential collector/buyer look to purchase?

Whatever you are looking to collect, I would always have the same answer to this question… Buy what you love, buy the best quality pieces you can afford… You will always remember the pieces you missed out on!


What, IN YOUR OPINION, ARE THE BEST ITEMS to sell via an auction house?

Antique pieces which have survived fashion changes intact in their original form have become very collectable, because with each fashion change many pieces are remodelled and therefore those pieces that have survived are becoming increasingly rare… We regularly achieve excellent results for our clients, when selling antique pieces.

Dawsons hold a Jewellery, Watches & Silver auction every month, and we stream all our sales live to over 10 million active bidders across the globe, in order to create a highly competitive bidding environment - our aim is always to achieve the best possible auction result (price) for our clients.


A French Art Deco platinum and multi gem Egyptian revival pendant
A French Art Deco Egyptian revival pendant

Sold for £39,500

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