Interview: Wroxham jewellers Bradley Hatch

Bradley Hatch jewellers in Wroxham (photo: Mark Bullimore)

Bradley Hatch jewellers in Wroxham (photo: Mark Bullimore)

We spoke to Wroxham-based jewellers Bradley Hatch to find out about new jewellery trends, investment pieces and more

The new workshop area (photo: James Bass)

The new workshop area (photo: James Bass) - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Tell us about your business

Bradley Hatch established his shop in Wroxham in May 1994. Since then, Bradley and his team have proudly served both the local community, and the many summer visitors to this charming village in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, establishing the shop as an independent purveyor of fine and antique jewellery, engagement, and wedding rings. However, our selection does not stop here, we also maintain a fine selection of gents and ladies’ watches, brooches, pendants, and an exquisite range of giftware for every occasion from christenings to birthdays.

If you’re looking for a piece designed and made by a well-known brand, we maintain eclectic ranges from the likes of Amore Argento, Anais, Cavendish French, Clogau, Coeur De Lion, Citizen, Citizen. Diamonfire, Emozioni, Junghans, Kronaby, Michel Herbelin, Nicole Barr, Raw Pearls, Royal London, Sif Jakobs and many more….

Vintage and antique jewellery is one of our specialities. There is nothing lovelier than holding a piece of history in your hands and wondering who wore it, where it has been and what stories lie within. These pieces often have a unique character to them, and this is something that we should treasure.

Through our in-house jewellery Workshop, we offer a first-class repairs service for all types of jewellery, watches, and clocks, all accompanied by our 12-month guarantee, giving you complete peace of mind. Whilst your jewellery is made to last a lifetime, regular care and maintenance is needed to ensure this. We recognise the importance of jewellery maintenance and our highly trained goldsmith and watchmaker have completed countless restorations of customers’ treasured pieces, restoring them to their former glory, and enabling them to enjoy them for many more years to come. In addition to this, we can add a personal touch to your beloved items by engraving them, provide valuations for insurance and probate, and fit a variety of watch straps and batteries whilst you wait.

Bradley Hatch Jewellers (photo: James Bass)

Bradley Hatch Jewellers (photo: James Bass) - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Our bespoke design service allows customers to create their dream jewellery from their own designs or drawings and to their unique specifications. Alternatively, we can redesign and renovate an existing piece that you already love.

During the year we hold various in-store and online events – details of which are always available on our website.

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Our pride in our personal service is of the highest quality, delivered by competent friendly. This is reflected in our core brand value “Committed to Quality and Service in the heart of Wroxham.

What is the most interesting new trend in jewellery?

Previously considered to have a reputation for looking ‘dated’, Yellow Gold is making a major comeback in vintage-inspired engagement rings and beyond. Considered to be a status symbol of 80s and 90s, this resurgence has come as a big surprise to the industry. To look back at the last five years for instance, Yellow Gold engagement rings were often left to gather dust on the shelves in our windows because of prospective brides demanding better quality diamonds. With a bigger focus on diamond size – this being the most expensive part of the ring after all—brides sought to accentuate this by choosing silver-white metals such as White Gold or Platinum to position the diamond as focal point of their rings. However, trends come and go, and tastes change over time and we are now noticing a considerably resurgence in the popularity of Yellow Gold. The reasoning behind this is very simple. One of the key reasons this pure form of gold now has greater appeal is due to its low maintenance. White Gold for instance tarnishes easily and as such, requires re-rhodium plating from time to time to enhance its appearance and durability, whereas Yellow Gold doesn’t require rhodium plating and is naturally hypoallergenic. Lastly, it is also typically priced lower than other fine jewellery metals like platinum, which conversely weighs almost twice as much as a karat of gold and is impervious to corrosion. If you’re in the market for a modern take on a classic look, we have an outstanding selection of new, pre-owned, vintage and antique Yellow Gold jewellery at Bradley Hatch.

Another interesting new trend in jewellery is the use of cubic zirconia. First produced in 1976 because of its diamond-like brilliance, crystal qualities, low cost, and overall durability, this synthesised crystalline material is frequently used to stimulate the different colours of a diamond. One of the most striking uses of cubic zirconia in recent years comes from Sif Jakobs Jewellery. Founded by goldsmith and designer Sif Jakobs in Coppenhagen, the brand has become famous for its eye-catching and elegant jewellery which often has a raw twist and a cool edge. Their new Autumn/Winter 2018 collection for instance, features a wealth of beautiful zirconia stones in popping colours such as green, blue, pink, lavender and yellow combined in a rainbow pattern to establish a richly delightful aesthetic, offer something for the more daring, and juxtapose Jakobs’ popular black and white collection.

What do you recommend as an investment piece?

The notion that jewellery retains its value is ingrained in traditions and cultures around the world, however, if you’re considering jewellery as an investment it is important to note that it is not just what you buy, but where you buy it that will determine whether the stones and precious metals that you acquire will hold their value, or simply turn out to be an expensive indulgence. Arguably the most important rule when buying jewellery as an investment piece is never to buy new from a high-street retailer as you’ll lose money instantly due to their margins, and other associated costs. As such, we recommend vintage, antique and pre-owned jewellery as an investment piece which is usually half the price of new pieces and can therefore potentially prove more profitable to own.

We would recommend a vintage sports watches as an investment piece, particularly any watch that falls into the category of being an ‘icon’ or ‘cult watch’, as these are most likely to retain their value and perhaps even to increase in value over time. A favourite in the vintage scene this year is a steel sports chronograph from Heuer (before it was TAG Heuer) called the Autavia. Six years ago, this timepiece would’ve cost £5,000 max, now, it holds a value of more than ten times that. The Autavia’s skyrocketing price is a result of a general boom in steel chronographs from the 1960s and 1970s and has brought formerly worthless watches out of the woodwork, from long-since defunct brands. However, it is important to note that when purchasing an item as an investment piece, it is crucial that you do your research since there are countless variations, and detail is everything when it comes to vintage watches.

Do you have a favourite style of jewellery?

My favourite style of jewellery is Art Nouvea. Art Nouveau, founded in France in the late 1800s and early 1900s, was a short-lived period of design that focused on women and nature, in reaction to women’s fight to secure more rights for themselves outside of the domestic sphere. This movement came on the heels of the “overwrought” designs of the Victorian era (which ended with Queen Victoria’s death in 1901) and symbolised a striking contrast to the mainstream Edwardian designs of the time. Worn by only select members of society, this period in jewellery design lasted only 15 years because of the onset of World War I, and people losing interest in the flamboyant aesthetic of the pieces produced.

Art Nouveau pieces typically depicted a lovely, unthreatening human with flowing hair and a sweet face; ‘fantasy’ women, such as sexualised mermaids or fairies with wings; or ‘scary’ feminine figures such as Medusa, to represent the dichotomy of how French men thought about French women at the time. In addition to women, this style of jewellery often incorporated nature in a way that never had been done in jewellery before, incorporating and sexualising insects and flowers.

For Art Nouveau jewellery, the materials were not as important as the design, these pieces were less about gemstones and more about enamel, including plique-à-jour enamel. French for “letting in daylight,” plique-à-jour enamel is translucent, meaning it allows light to pass through; like a stained-glass window.

Because much of this jewellery was made of enamel, which is not very durable, and it was a short-lived period in jewellery design, Art Nouveau designs in good condition are not abundant.

One brand which has adopted many of the design principles established by the Art Nouveau period is Nicole Barr. Nicole Barr jewellery is made from hard fired vitreous enamel (fired glass), giving a lustrous colour that will never change. With pieces often themed around nature, animals and insects, this collection offers a contemporary take on Art Nouveau jewellery.

What is the Big Idea for Bradley Hatch in the next year?

The Big Idea for Bradley Hatch Jewellers in the next year is to continue to invest in the outstanding shopping experience that we offer to our customers. We intend to this by modernising our showroom, undertaking substantial renovation work to both the interior and exterior, and further embracing our personal approach to service and sales through the introduction of a one-to-one seating area on the sales floor. Furthermore, we would like to extend our range by adding two more display windows.

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