1 What was your first experience with the trade?
My parents were dealers. My father was a very good dealer of European jewellery and objects based at Grays and at the good London fairs. The life and the sense of community was very familiar to me since childhood. I have memories of my father sitting for hours with an object, researching and admiring it. It must have gotten into my blood somehow. I studied art history with the idea to join the business after uni, but the business was really my father’s baby.
2 How did you get your start?
I was involved in film and TV in my early adulthood, then in 2013 something in me awoke with a bang. Travelling to Morocco, I wandered into souks and wanted to know who wore these jewels and where they came from. I loved how the Amazigh (Berber) culture was so influenced by ancient Phoenicia. As my research gathered pace, I found a lively online community of enthusiasts, collectors and dealers from around the world focusing on ethnic and tribal jewellery. Sarah Corbett (who now works for Michael Backman) had set up an excellent online forum and was conducting jewellery tours of Morocco. She was instrumental in advising me on Moroccan jewels and thus my business was born.
3 What is your focus?
I started online with north African adornment, specifically Moroccan ethnic jewels, an area not as popular or as researched here as in France or other countries. Collectable, affordable and interesting pieces were still around in the souks of Marrakesh in the early 2000s but have rapidly become much scarcer. When I showed at the Tribal Art London three years ago, I found other clients and spread my interests to other objects like textiles and masks.
4 What is one challenge facing the trade?
I think online is here to stay and it is a different world. Dealers seem to be taking to it in individual ways, just as they run their businesses in individual ways. The lifestyle can be demanding, though, as one has to constantly post, nurture one’s audience and take a great many photographs. It is a juggling act that forces one to sit at a computer for long periods.
5 Real ale or espresso martini?
Real ale feels better the day after but an espresso martini is much more fun.
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