Entering Bentley & Skinner is a little bit like visiting a museum. There is an atmosphere of calm and quiet, with lots of pretty things behind glass, complete with stern but friendly security guards, who no doubt would be at your side in an instant to whisper in your ear, should you try and eat inside the store. But crumbs aside, once you have crossed the threshold of the Aladdin’s Cave, make sure you have plenty of time to soak up the huge array of luxury antique and modern collectors’ items on display.
Look beyond the chandeliers, Royal plaques and formality in the beautiful oak furnished store, and the family founded business is full of old school charm. Beginning life as two separate jewellers (Bentley opened it’s doors in 1934, whilst Skinner has been in business since 1881 and has the honour being jeweller to Queen Victoria). The trinkateers joined forces in 1998, and now share the vast amount of history and knowledge that has been gleaned across the decades.
The store, which relocated from the masses on Bond Street, and relocated to a prime location in Piccadilly a few years ago, prides itself on it’s vast selection of antique and vintage jewellery. And so it should! Filled to the brim with diamonds, pearls and shiny things, I was eager to find out more.
Being slightly clumsy, and never having been engaged (I don’t think these are connected….?) I daydreamed about my engagement ring of choice.. I was tempted by a giant sapphire ring from the early 1900s- which would be the perfect partner for a battenberg lace wedding dress! An emerald art deco piece set in a diamonds transported me to the Great Gatsby, and I wouldn’t say no to a classic, super sparkly princess diamond from early 20th Century. Not very practical (did I mention I was clumsy?!) but every one, was one of a kind, making them even more special. But I guess an engagement ring is something to show off, and practical shmactical, they all looked pretty good! I did have a quick peek at the price tags, and I think my future husband is going to have to be pretty generous. With eager young lovers heading to the store in droves on a Saturday, the budget for a ring is definitely a conversation starter to prelude the wedding costs.
However, there is plenty more to see than engagement rings, and the store is a pure paradise for lovers of anything unique and unusual. With cabinets full of brooches, bangles and necklaces, from the Edwardian, Georgian and Victorian era, including well known names such as Fabergé, Lalique and Carlo Giuliano, nestling next to other fine jewellery from the period, you can jump through centuries in one afternoon and have a history lesson to boot. With animals, insects and reptiles being de-riguer throughout the centuries, I can’t stop thinking about the Victorian turquoise serpent necklace.. A snip at £36,000. Fashion is priceless after all!
Check out the collection for yourself, at Bentley & Skinner, 55 Piccadilly, London, W1J 0DX