Diamonds in the rough: Waldo Works’ brutalist-infused jewellery boutique

Diamonds in the rough: Waldo Works’ brutalist-infused jewellery boutique

When famed Fabergé dealer Wartski moved from its brutalist Sir Denys Lasdun central Mayfair base to its new St James’s Street location last year, an interiors makeover beckoned.

The London heritage jewel and objects specialist called in local Waldo Works studio to produce a sleek revamp that drew elements from its classic design heritage but with subtle avant-garde detailing.

‘We so liked the integrated showcases that had been made for our former Grafton Street premises that we contacted the firm that had created them for us,’ says Katherine Purcell, joint managing director of Wartski. ‘We asked which architects they had previously collaborated with and that’s how we found Waldo Works.’

 Irina Boersma
Photography: Irina Boersma

The new residence is teasingly traditional – the wood-panelled façade reflects the Edwardian building that houses it. But, once inside, a surprise beckons. ‘There is no sense of apology for the traditional exterior,’ Purcell muses. ‘It continues indoors in the first instance, then a line is drawn, and one is confronted with an entirely different and unexpected environment.’

Once that line is crossed, beautifully finished concrete wall panels and a stunning faceted concrete cornice seamlessly merge into a classic coffered ceiling. In a tribute to founder Morris Wartski’s Welsh heritage, chips of Welsh slate from the Cwt-y-Bugail quarries add a soft shimmer in the concrete around the display cases.

These, of course, contain rare treasures such as the Carl Fabergé desk frame acquired by Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna that displays an original photograph of them with their three month old daughter, Olga; mid-century jewellery by great houses, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Buccelatti, and a necklace by the great Rene Lalique. Once exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1900, it was known previously only from archival photographs. It was Wartski who rediscovered it. §

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