Why are you working within the auction world?
I’ve always been a history nerd, and fascinated by the styles and designs of each period through history. Working in the antiques world feeds into my love of all things historical. Being part of Dawsons Auctioneers gives me access to such a diverse and huge quantity of intriguing and beautiful objects, everything from jewellery, watches, silver, paintings, military medals and furniture.
Within your career to date, which item would you class as your favourite?
I discovered a magnificent full-length portrait of a lady by Anthony Van Dyck on a routine valuation. I was unsure whether it was definitely by the famous Charles I court painter, but I knew that it had vibrant quality and style. So I was thrilled when it was authenticated, and the client wanted to sell. It made almost £1/2 million, and was such an exciting piece to be involved with from the point of its re-discovery to its eventual sale.
What first attracted you to your speciality?
I started my career over 25 years ago as a general valuer, and decided 17 years ago to do my gemmological qualifications to learn more about gemstones and jewellery. There are so many areas of collecting that captivate me, but for me coloured gemstones such as rubies, emeralds, sapphires, garnets, and spinels are so wonderful. No two stones are exactly the same, and to hold a stone displaying such purity and vividness of colour is mesmerising.
A group of medals (with accompanying miniatures), awarded to Surgeon Rear Admiral James Lawrence-Smith RN. Sold for £3,100.
What aspect of your career do you find most satisfying?
Meeting clients and talking to them about the history and value of their loved & unloved objects. It still gives me such a buzz when I discover a forgotten or unappreciated item on a valuation and surprise the client as to its value. I know enough now to appreciate that there will always be something new to learn, and it’s great to work amongst colleagues who are so generous with their knowledge.
If money were no object, what would you most like to buy?
You can keep your large, top-grade diamonds, I would love to own (and wear) jewellery in the Arts & Crafts tradition by amazing designers such as Liberty & Co. and Archibald Knox, C R Ashbee for the Guild of Handicraft, Sybil Dunlop, and Arthur & Georgina Gaskin. Such simplicity of form showing the handmade quality of a piece and the wonderful coloured gemstones and vivid enamels used in intricate and alluring designs.
A Waterloo Cavalry medal to Thomas Dickman, 7th Regiment Hussars George R Regen. Sold for £1,100.
What should a potential collector/buyer look to purchase? Why?
Of course buy what you like, but do your homework and buy the best that you can afford in that field. Get professional advice (we at Dawsons are always happy to talk antiques!)
Good quality gemstones are a great investment. Not only are they beautiful, but they are a very definite commodity to have in your hand. But do get expert advice as there are plenty of treated and synthetic stones out there to fool the untrained eye.
What are the best items to sell via an auction house?
Signed antique and vintage jewellery by recognized iconic makers such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Faberge, Tiffany, Bulgari and Suzanne Belperron always sell so well – they just ooze quality and eye-catching style. An Art Deco piece of jewellery made and signed by Cartier can make up to ten times an equivalent period unsigned piece!
A Cartier Art Deco diamond bracelet with articulated geometric panel links. Sold for £32,000.
Medals, Jewellery & Watches Expert
Request a complimentary auction estimate from our team of specialists, or contact us to book an appointment. If your item is suitable for auction, we will provide you with a valuation and further details of how to sell with us.