12 July 2018

Sheldon Shapiro: 'Jewellery is Like Engineering in Miniature...'

Sheldon Shapiro has been trading for over thirty years from Grays Antique Centre. Sheldon deals in Russian art, jewellery, silver, objets de vertu, and objets d’art including FabergĂ©. He has developed his own particular style with emphasis on high quality and intrinsic value. We caught up with him for an exclusive insight into his business..

A small sample of the fabulous jewels on offer at Shapiro & Co...

How did it all start for you?

We originated in Portobello Road in the late 1950s. I was a second generation dealer and when Grays Antiques opened in 1977 my father was offered a stall here. By then my father had a shop in the suburbs and he decided he wanted to stay where he was. He never came in. He established shops. So I took over and moved in. I thought I would try it for three months and make up my mind afterwards. I still haven’t decided yet. And it’s been 36 years. Quite a long time! But it’s such a great place. You just never bore of it.

Have you seen many changes during this time?

Grays is in a strategically placed location and that makes it a marvellous place to come and shop. We stopped exhibiting at Olympia, which we used to, but now we do it from Grays twice a year. Its position is an intricate element to the success of the market. And our success. It’s terrific. And because we offer such a wide range of merchandise you have collectors coming here from all over the world. It’s an Antique’s Fair in a building. And that’s why it works. We share the expenses and we all have a shop presence in central London. When people come to London, they come to Grays.

How would you describe your collection?

I specialize in fine jewellery, Russian works of art, rare and beautiful gemstones, objects vertu. The way we choose objects is very much dictated by our market. We are dictated by fashion, our collectors and what’s available, though you never fully grasp the market. That what is so wonderful about it. I like beautiful things. Pieces with history excite me and I love gemstones and gold boxes, fine precious items, things of quality.

What is your background and what would you say informs the way you choose items for your collection?

I grew up in the business as a child and learnt as I grew up. I was trained as an engineer. Jewellery is like engineering in miniature. My engineering skills really help me in my business. In communication, display, design and in projects, I have utilised my engineering skills over the years. My skills in design and display complement my business to compete in a sinking market. But we are rising above the norm. We have a presence in London and we sell on line. But our physical presence is our life blood because it offers the face to face element you need to feel things. We are selling man made things that are very personal. Jewellery is personal. Women need to feel things and need to see how things look on them.  You can sell cars and fridges on the internet. It’s fine. But we sell art objects and fine items that need the physical contact. Our clientele is very varied. We sell to professionals, tourists, collectors, private individuals, other specialists in fine objects and gems.

If you had to choose a piece in your collection that is special to you, which one would it be?

I would choose this English Art Deco 1910-1920s, platinum and old cut diamonds bracelet. It came from another dealer’s collection. Clean cut and intricate in style, it is a beautiful example of quality and craftsmanship. And typical of a bygone era, has everything going for it. It’s a piece of history.

English Art Deco 1910-1920s Platinum and old cut Diamond Bracelet

For more details on items available from this wonderful dealer, visit Shapiro & Co at Unit 380. You can also take a look at their website, or check out our top picks below...

Amethyst and Diamond Ring, c1970

Gold And Sapphire Cat Brooch, c1960

European 18ct Gold Bracelet c1950

Collectable Russian Miniature Pencil, Contemporary

Amaldine Garnet and Diamond Pendant, c1980

Written by Titika Malkogeorgou.

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