She made an observation that would be applicable when visiting almost any UK auction or dealer in antique and vintage jewellery.
“I spend most of my working life on Bond Street and Place Vendôme; and I’ve lost count of the number of extraordinary, beautiful jewels that I’ve set eyes on. But there is a separation between what I see and what I know I can have.
“Imagine a place where this isn’t the case. Where a selection of jewels, from diamond cluster rings, to soft chunky chains, to exquisite Edwardian brooches are all within the realms of ownership – where you can believe that they can be yours. This stirs a different emotion that is wholly personal, and altogether more exciting.”
Among the items she singled out at Chiswick were an Art Deco jade, enamel and diamond vanity case by Cartier c.1925 – “a perfect snapshot of the Jazz Age, when women dared to apply lipstick and rouge in public” – and a 1950s double-clip brooch with brilliant and baguette cut diamonds in a fitted case by Heming & Co.
“The brooch is back,” she said. “No longer the favoured jewel of your granny’s generation, they look great pinned to a lapel, shoulder or collar.
“This jewel splits into two – imagine it divided and attached to the neckline of a cashmere jumper or jumpsuit – very cool.”
The estimate for the vanity case is £4000-6000 and £2000-3000 for the clip brooch.
Accessible pricing is a prime reason to choose old over new. So too are quality of craftsmanship, outstanding design, a sense of history and a sense of adventure.
All were driving factors in the collecting odyssey of Anne Shannon, whose archive of more than 350 pieces of late 19th and early 20th century jewellery will be offered by Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury in a stand-alone sale on October 31.
The Buckinghamshire collector began buying Georg Jensen silver jewellery while a GP in London in the 1960s – a time when this material was both available and affordable. She was advised by Michael von Essen, curator of Jensen’s antique department and museum in Copenhagen for over 40 years.
The central component of the auction comprises around 100 pieces by Georg Jensen, including a significant number of brooches, pendants and bracelets fashioned in the very early years of this craftsman’s career.
Shannon also came to embrace a far broader range of designers and makers from the period.
Celebrated European revivalist goldsmiths such as Wiese, Castellani, Giuliano and Melillo were represented alongside the Gaskins and Child & Child. In particular, after volunteering to assist in the cataloguing of the Omar Ramsden design drawings at Goldsmiths Hall, Shannon amassed 35 by Ramsden and Ramsden & Carr.
Ahead of the sale, jewellery historian John Benjamin will conduct a ticketed lecture on the collection on October 26.
He said: “Dr Shannon started to buy jewellery in the 1960s, when rare and desirable antique and later jewels were far more easily available than they are today. Her collection incorporates many totemic pieces by celebrated 19th century revivalist goldsmiths as well as a truly outstanding range of Arts & Crafts jewels.”
In total, this promises to be a landmark sale and a stern test of this market. Importantly, given the volume of material, much of it is offered with estimates that the market should find attractive.