I'd been to Portobello only once, and aaaaaages ago. I don't remember much about it apart from buying a medieval carnelian bead - which I still have. I'd been wanting to go for ages, having heard loads about how incredible Portobello is from various jewellery friends, so naturally I thought; "Yeah! Cool! I've got this! I'm prepared!"
I WAS NOT PREPARED.
We arrived just after 8am, and it was raining. We were, like, where is everyone?
Turns out, "everyone" was already inside, having far too much fun inside the cosy little arcades, where you can find anything from museum-quality antique bronzes, hand-painted Meissen porcelain, coin collections, modernist furniture, and of course jewellery... so in we squeezed, shaking our brollies, to join them.
You know when you're going somewhere amazing you agree with yourself a maximum amount you're allowed to spend? HA! Well, my "budget" got blown to smithereens.
Here is just one-tiny-corner-of-one-tiny-cabinet-why.
Even now, I'm looking at this thinking "why didn't I get that?" and "oh man, I missed THAT?!"
But from this case came my first purchase, which my mum spotted. It was the most exquisite late Georgian gold and turquoise forget-me-not stickpin, perfectly modelled in every detail. In the months that I've been back, I've now worked my magic and have converted it into a ring...one for my personal collection.
(Just as an aside... personally, I love it that with these now increasingly fashionable ring conversions give these perfect little pieces of sculpture, found on the ends of antique stickpins, a new lease of life. These days stickpins can be tricky to wear and easy to lose, and often languish in dark drawers and boxes, unloved and forgotten. I enjoy turning them into pieces which are worn and loved once more. I'm not indiscriminate and often make a call on whether to leave an antique piece as it is - I think this is extremely important to retain the integrity and historical importance of some of the rarer pieces. What do you think about repurposing antique jewellery? Tell me in the comments below!)
Anyhow, back to Portobello...
The forget-me-nots weren't the only stickpin I brought back with me! Also this tiny little Victorian diamond-set running fox who's leaping through a gold horseshoe, and a weeny little Victorian purply-pink-sapphire geometric shape set with rose-cut diamonds. They have also been given new lives as rings, and both are available to buy here.
I also met up with a couple of fellow Instagrammers! Check out the amazing @lucy.verity in Central Arcade and her stunning Victorian diamond bangle she just happened to be wearing...if you love statement Victorian jewels in original boxes, memorial jewellery and big antique silver pieces, she's your lady!
In the Silver Fox Arcade (appropriately for me given my obsession with all things fox) I met the lovely @singer_vintage_jewellery! She showed me her diamond leaf collection, which meant a swift trip to the cash machine as I couldn't bear to leaf them all behind (ho ho).
Here's the one I chose...with a little bit of tinkering I turned it into a charm necklace, and I've worn it pretty much constantly ever since.
There were a couple more rings I found, and which were my final Portobello purchases having totally maxed out my cards (like I said, I WAS NOT PREPARED). The feathers signet is already sold, but the 1960s "I LOVE YOU" ring with two tiny diamonds is available to buy here.
By the time we reached midday, the best dealers were packing up. Bleary eyed and jewellery-saturated we stumbled out into the street, and immediately regretted it. Look at the difference a few hours makes! So. Many. People.
We fled to the British Museum for tea and cake for a more relaxed afternoon! And the sun came out too :-)
COMING UP in Day Four of #jewelleryhannahgoestolondon ... the gemstone and mineralogical collections of your dreams! Brace yourself for the very best of the Natural History Museum...