26 May 2016

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the world's most prestigious flower show. The first show was in 1913 and it has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea every year since then, apart from gaps during the two World Wars. However, the organisation that runs the show - The Royal Horticultural Society - has been around even longer, since 1804.

This year, The Chelsea Flower Show is running between 24 and 28 May, and to celebrate we have picked a selection of flora and fauna themed antiques from Grays. Although we are closed Bank Holiday Monday, 30 May, we are still open as usual this Saturday, 28 May, so why not use this opportunity to do some weekend shopping.

Opal and diamond pendant, set in platinum and carved into a Pansy flower. 
Circa 1920. From Westminster Group.

A very rare Meissen squat vase decorated in a Turkish Iznik style pattern, circa 1924. From Serhat Ahmet Antiques.

An elaborate French pair of porcelain and ormolu candelabra decorated in the 
Sèvres style. From Serhat Ahmet Antiques.

1970s Sid Green of London polo neck dress. From June Victor at Vintage Modes.

Chinese Peking glass overlay, 18th/19th century. From David Bowden.
Silver overlay, unusual (with lid), c1900s, American. From Evonne Antiques

Silver & Red Enamel Butterfly Brooch by David Anderson, 1940s.
From The Antique Jewellery Company.

18 May 2016

The Jade Stone

Jade has held a special attraction for mankind for thousands of years. Known in China as "yu" (the royal gem), it is typically a green stone used for ornaments and implements.

Within Chinese art and culture, jade has always had a very special significance but has also been honoured and esteemed by other cultures throughout time. Most notable are the Mayans, Aztecs and Olmecs of Central America who valued Jade higher than gold, while in ancient Egypt the stone was admired as a symbol of love, inner peace, harmony and balance.

Jade can differ in colour ranging from blues, whites, pink or varied shades of red, but is widely recognised as green. In general, the value of jade is determined according to its colour and its intensity. In the very finest jade the colour is evenly distributed.

Symbolically jade is regarded as lucky or protective and stands for energy and beauty, combining the traditional and the modern in a particularly harmonious way.

Below we've displayed a selection of some our most beautiful jade items. 

A 19th century Chinese contrasting celadon jade carving of a recumbent deer, available from  David Bowden

A fine 4.33ct lavender jadeite cabochon, simply set in 18k gold. available from Arts of Asia

A jade ring with diamond borders, available from M & A Kaae

18ct gold, coral and jade drop earrings with detachable drops, available from Horton London

Jade & diamond brooch with original case by Liberty, available from Emmy Abe

White jade with carving available from Alexandra’s Art Corner

13 May 2016


From the 12th to the 15th of May at the Dulwich Picture Gallery you can go and join in a cultural celebration of all things Scandinavian. This spring the Scandimania events include a wide variety of scandi themed activities, from live music and outdoor cinema to crochet, weaving and paint workshops.

A well celebrated Scandinavian feature is the popular designs in both interiors and jewellery. Distinctive Scandinavian jewellery has been produced at least since the time of the Vikings, with heavily embellished bracelets, rings, and pendants featuring complex knotted designs displaying symbolic animals and signs. However, the region's unique industry did not come into its own until the turn of the 20th century, when Scandinavian artisans looked to indigenous craft-oriented arts to inform their designs.

Because of the material shortages during the two world wars, Scandinavian designers were pushed  to experiment with other materials such as ceramics, glass, iron and bronze, reserving silver and gold for inlays or settings.

Norway distinguished itself in the enameled metal arts, and firms like Marius Hammer and David-Andersen adapted the basse-taille and plique-à-jour techniques for jewellery production. In Denmark, the Arts and Crafts movement, also known as skønvirke or “beautiful work”, relied heavily on a sculptural quality achieved through repoussage or chasing. Skønvirke pieces were typically made in silver and sometimes set with cabochons of precious stones.

Both of these movements took inspiration from the reigning Art Nouveau trends of bright colours and densely layered floral shapes. Examples of famous designers are Georg Jensen, Gabrielson Pederson, Sigvard Bernadotte, Nanna, Jørgen Ditzel and Kalevala Koru.

Here at Grays we are joining in the Scandimania by selecting some of our most beautiful Scandinavian designs.

A pair of silver caviar spoons. 1887 by Jacob Tostrup (Norwegian). Offered by Past and Present
Georg Jensen classic vintage hand hammered silver bowl with Danish and English hallmarks, London 1924.
Offered by Past and Present
Swedish silver & enamel casket, a magnificent piece for any collection. Superb workmanship.
Import marks for Cohen & Charles, London 1914. Offered by Decart7
Top quality silver and enamel dish. Made in Norway by Marius Hammer. 1920s. Offered by  Evonne Antiques
A sculptural brooch of a heron set with a moonstone. Denmark. Circa 1910. Jacob Thage. Offered by Van Den Bosch

A Skonvirke silver brooch set with three red amber drops. Denmark. Circa 1910. Danish Jewellery. Jacob Thage.
Offered by Van Den Bosch

5 May 2016

Artisans at Grays

London Craft Week is in full swing and will run until 7 May, showcasing exceptional craftsmanship from around the world. With more than 130 events spread across five of the capital's key artisanal areas, it will comprise of demonstrations, workshops and exhibits featuring the products of imagination, individuality, passion and skill. Watch in awe as a variety of creative makers get crafty in their chosen field.

At Grays we have our very own specialist craftsmen: Bennett & Thorogood are freehand quality engravers (since 1965), and are highly skilled in hand engraving all precious metals and a wide variety of objects from gold and silver jewellery to watches, tankards, napkins and umbrellas.

Few people understand the skill and attention to detail involved in the traditional craft of hand engraving. It is a field that requires specialist knowledge and substantial artistic and calligraphic skill. Even the simplest engraved details – some initials, a date, or just a few decorative lines – can give personality, life and sentiment to an inanimate object. Historically it has been used in both practical and decorative applications; from hunting arms to royal seals, coins and bank notes to jewellery, its influences are all around us.

Example of engraving on a tankard, by Bennett & Thorogood
Example of engraving on a wine glass, by Bennett & Thorogood

Alfred Toro repairs jewellery, specialising in restoring antique jewellery. In addition, Alfred designs and makes his own jewellery, he is skilled in the age old technique of wax carving - a fascinating way of making silver and gold jewellery by carving jewellery out of wax, then creating a mould of the wax to make a solid silver or gold version of the wax mould. 

Alfred is a 'bench jeweller' - an artisan who uses a combination of jewellery making skills to make and repair jewellery and has a larger set of skills. Bench jewellers have a great knowledge of different craft techniques such as goldsmithing and silversmithing, as well as traditional bench skills such as soldering, resizing rings and setting stones.

Wax carving of a hog by Alfred Toro

Alfred's workbench

Bennett & Thorogood | Stand 109 | Tel: 020 7408 1880
Alfred Toro | Stand 104 | Tel:  020 7495 7068

3 May 2016

The River Tyburn

The Tyburn provided water for London from the 13th Century onwards, however there are even earlier written accounts of the Tyburn, dating back to 785 A.D. Today, the tributary can still be seen within the basement of Grays, where it has become a popular tourist attraction filled with fish.

For many centuries, the name Tyburn was synonymous with capital punishment, it having been the principal place for the execution of London criminals and convicted traitors. Before Oxford Street took its present name within the 18th century, it was called Tyburn Road, which led to the Tyburn hanging gallows at the location of Marble Arch and Tyburn Lane.

The Grade II listed Edwardian building that Grays resides in was originally designed for J.Bolding and Son plumbers. When Grays owner Bennie Gray discovered the running water through the basement when he bought the building in 1977, he decided to keep it and now the basement within the Grays Mews is one of the sole places where you can view the Tyburn as running water. It also flows deep beneath the grounds Buckingham Palace.

At Grays we have a great selection of dealers with shops alongside the Tyburn. We have selected a few of our favourite pieces from these dealers below:

19th Century Red goblet with lid, c1870-1880. Available from Mousa Antiques

Vintage Turquoise Glass and Diamante Necklace 1950s available from Arabella Bianco

19th Century Tall green vases with linear gold design, c1870-1880, available from Mousa Antiques

19th Century Yellow glass depicting a stag, c1880. Available from Mousa Antiques

20th Century Dan running mask in form of an anthropomorphised hare, avaliable from Peter Sloane

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