An Interview with Catriona Smith: Jewellery Expert at Sworders Fine Art

There is nothing more romantic than the gift of jewellery at Christmas. Whether buying for that special someone or treating yourself (because let’s face it, you deserve it), buying at auction is a wonderful way to discover superior quality and unique pieces….without breaking the bank.

Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers conducts two eagerly anticipated Jewellery sales each year. The sales are carefully curated by seasoned expert Catriona Smith. A registered valuer with the National Association of Jewellers, Catriona has led the Jewellery department at Sworders for the last 12 years.

Ahead of the next sale, which takes place on Tuesday 20 November, Catriona talks to us about how her passion for jewellery has evolved and the lots to look out for….


What was it about jewellery that made you want to become a specialist?

“Definitely the design aspect. About ten years ago, when my parents were clearing out their loft, they came across an old scrap book of mine that I had when I was about ten years old. Almost all of the pages were drawings and cut out images of jewellery by design icons of their time, like Andrew Grima and John McDonald. It surprised even me, how early I had been captivated by jewellery.”


A cased lapis lazuli and diamond pendant by Andrew Grima, c.1970. Sold by Sworders for £2,800 inc premium in 2016


What is the most treasured item you have bought?

 “A pair of pearl and diamond earrings I bought early on in my career when I was quite poor and struggling to even tax and insure my car. When I found them I believed them to be something quite special, so I went with my gut and bought them. I even had to sell a piece of jewellery to use as a deposit. My instinct was right as they turned out to be very large natural pearls.”

What do you look out for when you are valuing a piece of jewellery?

“Quality and design are key, but being able to put a name to something is paramount and can affect the value enormously. As the majority of jewellery is unsigned, this is something that takes years to learn.”

Which period in history would you start collecting now?

“My personal jewellery collection is quite eclectic but the design element has always been important to me, along with a love of texture. Over the years, colleagues have said I have a continental taste, which is probably true. If money was no object I would probably collect jewellery from the Art Deco period but jewellery from the 1950s is much more affordable and possibly an era to collect for the future.”

There are over 500 lots in your November sale. If you could buy just one lot, what would it be and why?

Lot 136. It’s a diamond cluster ring and not normally one of my favourite styles but this one has an exceptional centre stone. It’s actually a cushion cut diamond that has been angled slightly to be a transition to what was eventually to become a marquise cut. It is also a very good colour grade with lovely proportions. There has been a resurgence of popularity in old cut diamonds over the last few years and demand is high.”

Lot 136 – A platinum diamond set cluster ring. Estimate £5,000-6,000


Fine Jewellery and Watches – Tuesday 20 November, 2018

View the full catalogue:

For further information about the forthcoming sale or to discuss items for valuation, please contact:

Catriona Smith


Registered Valuer 76194

E: [email protected]

T: 01279 817778


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