Enhancing an Heirloom with Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

Jewellery has always played a major role in my family. Growing up, few things were as special as raiding my mother’s jewellery box. Each piece had a story to tell and these little jewels held a world of wonder. She herself had always wanted to become a silversmith, and has instilled in me a love and respect for precious metals and gemstones. And maybe a slight obsession with all things of a sparkly nature!

It’s no doubt she got her love of jewellery from her mom. My grandmother didn’t just have a box; she had a whole drawer of magic. I’d love to watch her get ready, she’d always open that dresser drawer to add on the finishing touches. I’m not sure she ever went out without some jewellery on!

The Piper family ladies, 2010, missing one cousin! 

Sadly two years ago, she passed away. While her jewellery collection was not extensive, it was important. She liked to collect opals and had been telling us granddaughters (there’s four of us, no boys!) that we would all one day inherit one of her beloved opals.

My grandmother's opal ring, along with one of her trinket boxes

She made jewellery special. She would often talk about a piece like it was her friend. Some of the items in her jewellery box were dinky trinkets, but everything had a story. Many of the more expensive pieces were given to her by my late grandfather for birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions. Including her silver charm bracelet.

 My grandmother and I, perfecting our pouts, 2014

My grandmother and I, perfecting our pouts, 2014

Not many pieces of jewellery can tell a story as inexplicably as a charm bracelet can. The charms itself were given individually as gifts over the years. Each one has its own significance, it’s own tale to tell. While inheriting the opal almost felt like a birthright, receiving the charm bracelet felt just as dear.

I knew that I needed these pieces to become a part of my life, and weave them into my own story.  

So without hesitation I took them, along with a few other things over to the award-winning Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery. The studios themselves are like Aladdin’s Cave, full of treasures and wonder. But more so you could feel the passion, see the craftsmanship and know that if you walk out of there with something, it’s going to be special.

I love the brand for many reasons, one of which is the importance they place on nurturing new talent. The setup, while exquisitely modern, has a real feel of importance in tradition and craftsmanship to it. It’s clear that they care about the trade, and as such also uphold exceptional ethical standards – which can often be a bit foggy in the jewellery industry.

At Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, Halls Green

Upon arrival (without an appointment I might add) at the Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery workshop in Halls Green I was offered a drink from their fully-fledged café and had a browse whilst I waited for one of their designers. After a few minutes I was introduced to designers Laurie and Beth. They were full of knowledge and ideas – pretty cool considering they’d had no time to prepare.

I wanted to have the opal ring made into a pendant necklace. The ring itself was far too dainty for me, but I thought repurposing the stone and diamonds into something more my style would be the perfect solution.

Laurie came up with a stunning design, taking everything I wanted into account but also making sure it was technically sound.  We decided to add in a new stone, a blue topaz (my birthstone) to truly make the new piece my own.

The inspiration, by Wwake

Laurie's design for the necklace

This is something the team at Harriet Kelsall excels at. If you’ve inherited jewellery that’s not quite your style, they can give it a new lease of life. Or you can incorporate meaningful stones into new items – much like Prince Harry did by adding two of his mother’s diamonds into his bespoke engagement ring for Megan Markle.

My own jewels were then taken to one of the jewelers for technical checks and pricing. The jeweler quickly noted that the charms were soldered on with lead – which was not good long-term for the integrity of the bracelet.

The charm bracelet before, very tarnished!

After carefully explaining the processes and prices to me, I decided to go ahead with the full bracelet refurb but would have to wait for the pendant as it was a bit out of my budget.

I’m sure I probably could have taken the bracelet somewhere else at a lesser price – but when you have such an important heirloom, you need to trust your jeweller. The standards at Harriet Kelsall are among the highest in the industry.

The jeweller reworking the silver fastenings. Image courtesy of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

I was given a three-week turnaround time, which considering it was just before Christmas was completely reasonable. It turned out that we would be leaving to go to the US for Christmas just a day or so after the deadline, so they very kindly pushed it up, allowing me to bring the bracelet back to show my family its transformation.

Polishing the tarnished silver. Image courtesy of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

The transformation itself was astonishing. I didn’t think it could be polished as well as it was – I wouldn’t be surprised if its shinier now than it was brand new!

I’m so pleased with the end results as well as the customer service and care I received.

 My shiny refurbed charm bracelet, worn with my ChloBo stacking bracelets, a gift for my first Mother's Day

My shiny refurbed charm bracelet, worn with my ChloBo stacking bracelets, a gift for my first Mother's Day

There’s no doubt that I’ll be working with Harriet Kelsall team in the future. I love the romantic notion of having a ‘family jeweller’ – a place that will help us celebrate life’s special occasions with tangible objects of sparkling beauty, heirlooms to be treasured. (Husband, take note!)

If you’d like to chat with the jewelers and designers at Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery they’d love to hear from you. In addition to their expansive Hall’s Green workshop and their Cambridge studio, earlier this year they opened a shop in London’s Primrose Hill. Whatever your jewellery needs, they will be able to help!  

(Note: This is a sponsored blog post, however I sought out and had decided to use the services of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery before the idea for this collaboration came about. I would have used their services regardless and can wholeheartedly recommend them.)

Shop 'Til You Drop: The Kings Road, Chelsea

I love a bank holiday weekend, who doesn’t? Sundays are usually low key and even a bit depressing, knowing you have to get back to the daily grind in a matter of hours. But not a bank holiday Sunday; no… these are completely transformed into an amazing additional day where it feels as though the world is your oyster. Stay up as late as you like! Go on, have that extra glass of wine. Whoa, is that sunshine?! Yes, because bank holiday Sundays are simply magical.

I spent this past bank holiday Sunday with one of my favourite people in one of my favourite places – my BFF and I had a day out of (window) shopping along the Kings Road.

sloane square

 I spent over ten years living in London and the majority of that was in a SW postcode – Fulham, Parsons Green, Wandsworth, Clapham, Wimbledon, Putney (I moved a lot!). Most of these places had a very standard if not small high street. But Chelsea is different. It’s full of one-off boutiques, chic cafes and bars full of beautiful people, all of which seem to be for a lifestyle that’s just a tad bit more aspirational. I love it.

As you probably know, I also love shopping. London is without a doubt a shopper’s paradise but braving Oxford Street on a bank holiday is just not something I’m willing to do. The Kings Road, which is the heart of Chelsea, is different. It’s got an amazing buzz of fashionable people, but it doesn’t have hoards of tourists and swarms of shoppers, making it a much more enjoyable experience.

Fancy a stroll and some shopping? I recommend starting from Sloane Square and working your way down the Kings Road, like we did, popping into wherever takes your fancy along the way. Here’s a short selection of some of my favourite stops, inspired by our recent shopping trip:

Fuel up with breakfast at Colbert

Come out of Sloane Square tube station, go right and you’ll find yourself under the beautiful burgundy awnings of French brasserie, Colbert.

colbert

As soon as you walk in, you’ll be transported to great cafes of Paris. It’s opulent but friendly. Grab a seat at the marble bar for a quick breakfast to get you going. Choices range from a decadent full English to lighter options like a single portion of eggs florentine, home-made granola or mashed avocado on toast, with most options under a tenner (including coffee!).

Let the shopping commence!

Once you’re fuelled up, wander across the street and you’ll see the impressive corner building that is Club Monaco’s UK flagship store.

clubmonaco

Be sure to wash your hands after brekkie, as a land of soft, sumptuous fabrics awaits – if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to touch it all!

clubmonaco2

Club Monaco describes its style as ‘distinctly urban-casual’. It’s a great place if you’re looking for something special or need an investment piece. The tailoring is soft but well structured. Many pieces are quite classic with a touch of embellishment that adds an on-trend edge. I love it as it’s slightly off the beaten path so whether you need a dress for a wedding or a new trench, the likelihood of sharing your style with others is slim!

Bright, shiny and personalised

Next venture down the Kings Road and very quickly you’ll come to an opening with a florist on the corner – turn in here and you’ll find a square full of beautiful boutiques! One of my favourites is jeweller Monica Vinader.

monica vinader

I’ve been a long-time fan and collector of her simple gold-plated designs so when this standalone shop opened, I rejoiced. If you’re a rose gold lover like me, be warned, you’re going to want it all. Fortunately, a lot of the pieces look great alone but are designed to be stacked and worn together – rings, bracelets and necklaces. You can also get free engraving done on site. Men take note, it’s the perfect place to buy a gift!

A sure-fire favourite

Continue exploring the Duke of York Square and you’ll find a fabulous Zara. I’m sure you’ve been to a Zara before but this one is different. It’s spacious and tidy and the selection is fantastic. They also have a sizeable home section, which is divine. If you need a Zara shopping-spree it’s definitely worth making the trip here and saving yourself the stress of Oxford Street!

zara

There are number of other fabulous shops lining the Duke of York Square as well that rival central London. Most look small from the outside, but venture in and you’ll find a basement level. Cos and All Saints are definitely worth a browse. And don’t forget to explore the street side which is home to fab shops like BCBGMaxAzria, Space NK and Michael Kors.

Not-so diet friendly

Walking down the Square you’ll find an open tree-lined space with a café smack in the middle, and the Saatchi Gallery on the left. At the end of the path is one of the most impressive Jigsaw stores (complete with a spiral stair case) and Partridges, the Queen’s grocery store.

partridges

Pop in here even if just to browse their impressive deli and dessert counters.

partridgesdesserts

You’ll also find one of London’s best selections of imported American foods. It’s a mecca for a homeless Yank like me come Thanksgiving time! However anytime of year I’m likely to walk out with a pack of Twizzlers. It’s also a great place to grab a coffee (and a pastry) while you sit outside and people watch.

partridgesuscandy

Continue to head west down the Kings Road and you’ll find a range of boutiques, shoe stores and high street faves, far too many to mention!

Explore an emporium of awesomeness

Explore at your leisure but don’t head home until you arrive at Anthropologie – one of my all-time favourite shops!

anthropologie

I used to go as a child back in Florida (where I grew up) and play hide and seek through the rails of  clothing, dream which eclectic door knobs I’d buy for my dream house and flip through the beautiful selection of coffee table books. Not much has changed in twenty years, except now I have to exert extreme budgeting will power!

anthropologie2

Anthropologie is like an old fashioned emporium of beautiful clothing, homewares and accessories (the Chelsea shop even has it’s own art gallery!) from a diverse collection of unique brands. It’s best to visit just after pay day.

Debrief the day

No shopping day is complete without a debriefing glass of bubbly at Bluebird. It’s become somewhat of a Chelsea institution.

bluebird

After one visit, it’s easy to see why. If it’s sunny out, sit in the gorgeous garden where you might spot Spencer or Binky (or some of the other Made in Chelsea crew).

bluebirdcourtyard

There’s also a café, a restaurant and a shop. It’s the perfect place to end a fabulous day!

bluebirddeli