Nancy Alsop talks to Lucie Campbell, the French-born teacher who transformed herself into an antiques dealer
What was Lucie’s founding ethos?
When I started buying and selling antiques, I would only ever buy a piece of jewellery if it were perfect. I soon gained a reputation amongst those in the trade as someone who had a keen eye for detail and exquisite taste. This has very much been carried through in the jewellery we make today.
How has it evolved over its half century?
From buying and selling antiques at Portobello and Bermondsey markets to having our own store on Bond Street, there has been a huge evolution. The main aspect in which it has evolved is really from going from buying and selling antique jewellery to designing and manufacturing our own collection and then from selling within the trade to opening our own retail store.
When did you first become interested in jewellery?
Each morning on my way to school I would pass a small shop that had some jewellery in the window. I was mesmerised and spent time each day staring into the shop’s windows, amazed by what I saw. This is my earliest memory of my love for jewellery.
You started out as an English teacher. When and how did you make the transition to the world of fine jewels?
My husband, Graham, was an antique dealer and it was he who introduced me to the world of antiques. I realised I had a keen eye, and a passion for jewellery.
Your special interest is in Victorian and early 20th-century jewels. What is it about those eras that particularly appeals?
One of the main features that appeals is the secret messages and meanings behind the pieces. Things were much less obvious than in today’s modern jewels.
You are now based on Bond Street, but you started out at Portobello. What was Portobello like when you first discovered it?
Very different to today. Many of the arcades have now closed, replaced by coffee shops and clothing chains. Fifty years ago it really was an important place to find and sell fine antiques.
What are your favourite memories of Portobello?
The things you could find. The making of good friends and respected business associates that you would see for the next 50 years.
Who were the most memorable characters?
So many memorable characters with so much passion. It was not just about making a profit but finding something truly wonderful.
What is your approach to buying jewels?
Only buy something if it is perfect.
What is your favourite aspect of being a gemologist?
Being able to share that knowledge with the retail customers, many of whom put so much trust in us with little knowledge themselves.
What has been your most prized buy in your career?
A Victorian portrait cameo brooch.
And finally, what do the next 50 years hold?
Building on the hard work of the past 50 years and building even stronger relations with our customers.