“Belgravia was farmland when I moved here,” jokes David Thomas, who opened his boutique – David Thomas, on Pimlico Road in 1984, and has since been joined by daughter and reluctant (but brilliant) protégée Jessie.
Long time clients of David will be familiar with his impressive body of work, and readers may have seen stars such as Taylor Swift and Lesley Manville wearing beautiful Jessie Thomas jewels.
Did Jessie always want to follow in David’s footsteps?
A resounding “no”, deadpans Jessie. “But here I am.”
She trained with her father, but more by accident than design. “I did ask to train here and you said no,” Jessie reminds David. “But then you lost Bob who used to run the shop, and I’d just been made redundant from my job in the film industry, so that’s how I ended up here.”
The pair craft all their exquisite pieces by hand from their respective workshops, which are located, warren-like, underground beneath the shop.
It’s an arrangement and dynamic that clearly works well, but that’s not to say that the two have similar work styles.
“We make everything here, and customers love that they can come and look at their pieces while they’re being made. If people do everything on a computer and send it to Hong Kong, it shows. There’s a lack of subtlety.”
“People like being able to try on the ring while it’s being made,” agrees Jessie. As a client myself – Jessie was my first port of call for my cherished engagement and wedding bands – I can confirm that seeing how and where the rings are made adds an extra personal feel to the experience.
Quality over quantity is another reason people seek out both David and Jessie’s work. “If you’ve got a master pattern you can cast that off in quantity, but we don’t because that’s not our market. If you make a ring, you wouldn’t make 10 of them, you’d maybe sell one or two,” says David.
Besides style and design, there are other benefits to buying from experts in craft. “There’s a lot about the engineering side of things that you don’t know if you haven’t trained,” says Jessie. “It’s knowing how to make a necklace sit properly, or stopping the diamonds from turning over.”
For those looking for Valentine’s Day gifting inspiration, there will be some pieces ready to take away, although most of the pair’s trade is in bespoke pieces and engagement rings.
Jessie uses gold that is both recycled and fair trade, which is “maybe 15 per cent more expensive”, as well as Canadamark diamonds, which also cost about 20 per cent more.
“But that’s what you need to do if you want the most ethical jewellery,” she says. “You literally get the name of the person who dug it out the ground, and the name of the person who cut it in Antwerp.”
To find out more about David Thomas Boutique, click here.