I have the impression that you have quite a collection yourself, what’s your favourite piece in your collection?
I met with the curator of the Christian Dior exhibition at the V&A and she chose a rare piece from my personal collection. It has to be that piece. It went on display in the Dior in Britain room. It was a beautiful moment, and such a huge experience from a personal perspective. It was like a little girl’s dream come true walking into the V&A to a Christian Dior exhibition to see one of your pieces. I went nine times; the exhibition was so amazing. The piece is called ‘Bal de Oiseaux’. It is a necklace with little birds and crystals and matching earrings made in the mid-1950s by Christian Dior and Mitchel Maer, a London-based jewellery maker. It was Dior who asked Maer to make pieces for him to sell. Christian Dior was massively innovative in business, initiating and creating a lot of the business models that big companies use today, like the out-licensing and the partnerships. They would likely have sat together, the two of them, designing these pieces. Our research indicated there’s probably only 25 to 30 of that design, so it is special and very rare. I’ve bequeathed it to the V&A now, because that’s where it belongs.
And how about your customers, what makes people buy vintage jewellery?
I think it is the opportunity to be different and unique. They find it more meaningful as a purchase and as an acquisition. It is a thoughtful purchase. It is special because it has a journey and a story already. We don’t often know what particular journeys and stories, but they’ve lived a life, and they come from times gone by and yet they are still really relevant now. That’s another thing I look for when I am sourcing: if it translates today.
Is it hard sometimes to let it go?
Yes, very occasionally, when I let something go, it will haunt me. I’ve learnt and now I let things rest before I decide. If I am really torn, I just let it rest a while longer. But ultimately it is hard to let anything beautiful and rare leave me – which brings us back to the artistry of these pieces. I think this also has to do with the fact that I never buy purely with the commercial hat on. I will never buy things only because I think they will sell. Not, if I don’t like them. It wouldn’t be true to my eye, my curation and its fit in the overall collection. That’s the beauty of what I do, that every piece is curated, hand-picked and unique.