Confidence is the new buzz world, forget mindfulness, so last year. It is confidence that will be occupying acres of print space, programmes and self-help books on confidence will dominate the few bookshops remaining in our high streets. According to a two page article in the Guardian by well-respected journalist Laura Barton, ‘real confidence has gravitas. Someone who is confident has authority and stillness’.
This month LuxuryTopping was the guest of two of the most respected purveyors of fine jewels, S.J. Phillips for their sale at Sotheby’s and the House of Garrard for afternoon tea. These two companies are full of confidence, they don’t shout bling loudly, they don’t throw their gems in your face, and they do not combine a collection of the biggest and brightest stones into huge jewellery pieces – so loud and vulgar. Big, brash jewellery can be worn on the tube with confidence, as most people would assume that something tasteless and tacky could not be real.
S.J. Phillips established in 1869, is more than jewellery it is an antique gallery full of beautiful objects of historical interest, confidence shines out of every corner of their shiny jewellery cabinets. They have moved to smaller premises and decided to have a garage sale, we all have to downsize at some point in our lives. Some garage sales are attic clearances by stately homes, others sales are your neighbours poking around your one precious items in the garage. Philips took the concept up a notch and asked their friendly neighbours in Sotheby’s to take care of everything. As Anna Wintour, the doyenne of Vogue commented ‘a visit to S.J. Phillips has always been the highlight of any London trip for me’. As usual, Anna is right.This family business, now run by the grandsons, is the home of exquisite taste and style. The sale gave people the opportunity to acquire jewellery and silver with providence, stretching from a pair of Romanian silver-gilt octagonal dishes from 1640, which are thought to be engraved with the arms coronet and motto of Achatius Barcsai, the Prime Minster of Transylvania in 1658. A Faberge gold and enamel timepiece circa 1908 in red and gold, was just stunning and a gem set and diamond bracelet from the 1950’s set carved emerald flowers, onyx sapphire and ruby cabochons and diamonds, auction estimate of £120,000. The polite team exuding confidence and experience are so willing to share their knowledge and love of the beautiful pieces they are giving you the opportunity to buy. When we win the lottery we will be back.
Afternoon tea at the House of Garrard was another experience of confidence and assurance. Now returned in their original home in Albemarle Street, Mayfair, which was purpose built for them in 1911 with the workrooms at the top and the showroom on the ground floor. The House of Garrard was established in 1735 and the first commission came from Prince Frederick of Wales, quite a man of fashion at the time, in the same year. The order book with the original order on display and fascinating to see. It is the longest serving jewellery house in the world and for 280 years Garrard have been supplying royalty with amazing gems and glittering glorious tiaras. The company were appointed Crown Jeweller by Queen Victoria in 1843 and have retained their Royal Warrant to this day. The iconic sapphire engagement ring worn by the Duchess of Cambridge is indeed a Garrard ring.
With this pedigree, confidence is assured, calm, relaxed and totally comfortable in their own environment, Garrard continue to produce jewellery which would not offend your grandmother, quiet, classy, heirloom pieces and full of style. The website displays a collection of jewellery which is so modern, so well priced and easy to buy online, it seems a pity to miss out on a trip to the fabulous store. We loved the TwentyFour the earrings from the range.
These two establishments have confidence and authority and most importantly they engage with their customer. They have the time, proficiency and knowledge and paramount in their mind is to give you an experience, which is more than just dropping an American Express card on the desk. You learn during your visit and leave knowing that the piece of jewellery you have purchased is going to give you the confidence to rule the world.
A Fabergé gold and enamel timepiece, Workmaster Henrik Wigström, St Petersburg, 1908-1913 image courtesy Sotheby’s; TwentyFour Earrings courtesy Garrard’s; all other images (C) LuxuryTopping.