Jewellery With A History

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 26th June 2014

Whilst walking from the Castle Street Car Park to the Cathedral I noticed some very attractive ‘dangly’ earrings in the Stark Gallery. I’ve always loved drop earrings and have about 4 dozen pairs. The price was a pleasant surprise so I decided I’d treat myself.

A life time in media and being naturally inquisitive I questioned Emma the lady who runs the gallery. It transpired that my earrings and indeed a whole cabinet of beautiful jewellery had a very interesting story to their provenance. I offered to print the background on my Website and here is what Annie the creator said:

The stones all come from a train that came out of Czechoslovakia in the 1970’s.
Crystals and imitation gemstones are produced there still, but during the second world war trade was disrupted, and presumably factories closed.
The stones and findings were packed in ammunition cases from the British army and a whole train load came to the UK.
The stones date back many years. Some of the shapes would have been made especially for couture jewellery for the likes of Coco channel and the European fashion houses. Clearly some are deco, and I suspect some of the crystal is even older. The mirroring has begun to 'go' which makes them so rich and mysterious.
The stones and beads were auctioned Wolfie bought them. Wolfie was a German Jew who managed to escape from the gas chambers where he lost his whole family. Wolfie often found interesting things for Mark. Other items included first world war leather horse shoe bags which were hand stitched from really thick leather hide. The horses were used in the first world war and needed to be re-shoed on the battlefield. Mark unstitched them and made fashionable handbags from the parts.
I met Wolfie. he used to come round and had become a family friend of Mark. He drank all my Drambuie.
Mark is my late husband, who had a shop in Portobello Road and ran a studio which employed up to 50 artists and designers making things for all the stores in London and actually exporting too across Europe and the States.
Mark had a 5 story building in Soho which housed these and other finds which he used creatively and from which he conducted a cash and carry creative wholesale business.
Mark refused to put his own name to the business, otherwise I suspect he would now be a house hold name.
People like Bette Lynch from Coronation Street, all the pop stars in the 1980’s, all the magazines were full of Marks jewellery and also leather work. He had a concession in Hyper Hyper in Kensington which was a massively trendy shop for UK designers.
When China opened to the west and began to trade, most of this business was lost and Mark nearly went bankrupt.
At this point we got together, and over the years I helped him to scale down and we survived. We had a family, and my business and his became the core of creativity. the range that you like is the result of this collaboration.
I still have a big room full (floor to ceiling) of interesting components, and am gradually getting the biz going again after losing Mark 3 years ago.
I love the light, the colour, the shapes and the playfulness of this jewellery which has a reputation for receiving friendly comments for the people who wear it.

Oh – I admit it – couldn’t choose between them so I bought both. The style very much reminds me of the work of Andrew Logan who used to create jewellery to compliment the Gowns of Zandra Rhodes.


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