Hat­ton Gar­den char­ac­ters make a gem of a doc­u­men­tary

Sandy Rashty speaks to the stars of a prime-time ITV pro­gramme on Lon­don’s fa­mous jew­ellery district

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

IN LON­DON’S prime jew­ellery quar­ter of Hat­ton Gar­den, do­ing well in busi­ness de­pends heav­ily on who you know. Per­haps that is why so many Jewish traders — from the Charedi di­a­mond mer­chants to sec­u­lar shop own­ers — have man­aged to pros­per. An old-school way of do­ing busi­ness per­sists. Buy­ers still barter, sell­ers set­tle through gentle­men’s agree­ments and deal­ers know ev­ery re­tailer by face and name. “We’re in our own bub­ble — there’s nowhere else like it,” says di­a­mond mounter Michael Lyn­ton, one of the stars of Di­a­mond Geez­ers and Gold Deal­ers, a prime-time, be­hind-the-scenes ITV doc­u­men­tary broad­cast last night. Filmed over three months, the hour-long pro­gramme fol­lows some well-known Hat­ton Gar­den char­ac­ters — and rel­a­tive new­comer Leigh Stut­man — as well as shop­pers look­ing for be­spoke jew­ellery and jaw-drop­ping en­gage­ment rings. It also cap­tures the “wheeler-dealer” life­style of traders hag­gling face-to-face. One of the many who com­mute to Hat­ton Gar­den from the north-west Lon­don and Hert­ford­shire sub­urbs, Lyn­ton says the jew­ellery trade has tra­di­tion­ally ap­pealed to Jews and es­ti­mates that more than 70 per cent of Hat­ton Gar­den traders are Jewish.

“Ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­one. We give our word on deals. You stick by your word. If you don’t, you’re not con­sid­ered a gen­tle­man. If we had a load of pa­per­work, there would be com­plete chaos.”

Lyn­ton, 66, is shown in the pro­gramme sculpt­ing a bird with pre­cious stones for a wealthy client. He works on his tiaras, brooches and ban­gles from a win­dow­less base­ment with only a ra­dio for com­pany. He has sculpted pre­cious stone-en­crusted pieces worn by mem­bers of the royal fam­ily and ex­hib­ited in the Vic­to­ria & Al­bert Mu­seum.

The Pin­ner Syn­a­gogue con­gre­gant was in­tro­duced to the trade by fam­ily mem­bers and served his ap­pren­tice­ship at a top jew­ellery house after win­ning a com­pe­ti­tion run by the Jewish Board of Guardians in 1963.

He has seen the Hat­ton Gar­den clien­tele change dra­mat­i­cally over the decades. “Un­for­tu­nately, the aris­toc­racy are not what they were,” he re­flects. “No, many of our clients are from the Far East or Dubai. They want some crazy taste­less things but we give them what they want.” He de­clines to dis­cuss what they pay.

Di­a­mond Geez­ers cap­tures a way of op­er­at­ing of­ten far re­moved from the dig­i­tally savvy con­tem­po­rary work­place. Lyn­ton, for ex­am­ple, gets “lots of com­mis­sions” with­out the need for a mo­bile phone, com­puter, or even a busi­ness card. Many

Leigh Stut­man

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