2 August 2018

Finishing Touch: Watching and Listening - You Learn a Lot

Dianne's advice to watch and listen sounds like a spy thriller, but is in fact what she says is the best way to learn about antiques. Dianne is second generation antique dealer, prime vendeuse of Finishing Touch; A family business. She shares a unit with Nigel Norman on the ground floor at Grays.

Finishing Touch Jewellery Limited has been trading from Grays for about twenty-eight years, moving here from Camden Passage. Because of her wealth in experience and knowledge, I've come to find out some inside information.

We are all intrigued to learn, how do dealers go about choosing what they buy for their customers?
I buy things that have character. I’m often drawn towards what I like, but I don’t always purchase that way, I do buy things that speak to me. People have different expectations; Age, character, history. They can be so far apart but they fall into line. The construction, the cut and complimenting gemstones are important. Sometimes people come in with a set idea of what an engagement ring should look like. But when they try it on they find that they do not like the chosen style on them. I always then give them the advice to try lots of different styles to see what suits them. After all, this important piece of jewellery is to last a lifetime. I tell them “imagine you are buying shoes - you look down and think hmmm, not sure about these. You look in a mirror moving your foot around - getting the view that others see when on you”. I tell them, "have a look at yourself in the mirror"; They have to see it through the reflection, I always allow them to take a picture if they are still undecided.

Do you find that there is a lot of repetition in the antique trade?
Yes sometimes there’s repetition. Today there is a lot of modern jewellery that has been made to look antique, but it is modern. It is almost identical in looks and feel, but to the trained eye you can see it has been cast.

What if I came to you - I am not a millionaire – and I wanted to buy a special piece that is not machine made with excellent craftsmanship and good quality stone? How would you advise me?
I would say that you have to buy a unique piece, something different that is hard to be copied. A piece of that has been made around the size of the stone. This would make it a unique piece as made by a craftsman in a one off design. For example if you were to choose an amethyst that weighed 45 carats, a similar amethyst of the same weight will not necessarily carry exactly the same measurements, cut, colour strength or clarity. Therefore the frame made to display the gem would be unique to that stone.

How did you get involved in the antique jewellery business?
Finishing Touch is a Jewellery business that is owned by my husband’s mother. When we were first together, I remember my mother-in-law coming home from her round the world buying trips. She would come back with all sorts of amazing jewellery. I was like a child in a sweet shop. I was so intrigued, I started to sell items to friends and work colleagues, mainly earrings and engagement rings. People then would ask me to help them match their wedding ring with their engagement ring. When I had my children I went to a jewellery show with my mother in law and I decided to buy a sample set of wedding bands. I then began a ‘In your own home” business of selling them - I would visit clients in the comfort of their own home. In 2014 we opened a second shop in Hatton Garden. In December 2016 I closed the Hatton Garden shop and came to Grays where we were located on the lower ground floor. In June, I moved to the ground floor to share with Nigel Norman. I am open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays, at other times by appointment.

How would you describe the character of your business?
We have quite a following of customers from all over the world, dealers from Hong-Kong, America and Europe. We have a large range of Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco and modern jewellery. I have learnt by watching, listening and asking questions. During my time in Hatton Garden I was able to have hands on experience with a diamond supplier to learn how to identify the colour, cut, clarity of diamonds.

Out of all this wonderful collection of jewellery what would you pick for yourself?
I love aquamarines and I love the necklace that I am wearing. It is a simple diamond necklace, but it is very understated, I like it because it is an everyday necklace that doesn’t scream out “diamonds”. I love diamonds because of their extraordinary vibrancy.


Contemporary Amethyst and Diamond Pendant

Etruscan style Victorian Bangle with Turquoise 

French Dress ring Boasting two centre stones estimated weight 3.0cts

Navette Diamond Dress Ring 

c1940 Emerald and Diamond bracelet

Written by Titika Malkogeorgou.

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