The world of high jewellery has always been defined by the presence of family. Today, that essential ingredient has disappeared from the world’s most prestigious houses. The echo of long lineages remains, but without familial continuity, collectors are less likely to enjoy the experience of working with the same jewellery house generation after generation.
Family is at the heart of every major jewellery house
High jewellery has traditionally been a family business. The foundations of prestige houses were laid in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and then built upon by successive generations of the same families. They would translate the skills they had learned from their predecessors for a new age of connoisseurs.
Relationships were created over decades and blurred the lines between a family jeweller and a close family advisor. Clients saw the value in working with professionals who understood their tastes, their passions and their evolving collections of high jewels.
Today, family jewellers are surprisingly rare
Many creative directors will attempt to walk in the shoes of these original owners to ensure their spirit stays alive in each new high jewellery collection.
But something much deeper can't be replicated: the personal relationship that a family jeweller has with a collector. This is something that all connoisseurs deserve to experience.
“The strongest bonds of trust are in family. I learned the trade from my older brother and father, and now I’ve passed the art down to my son,” Ronald Abram.
Ronald Abram is one of the few remaining multi-generational family high jewellers
JJ Abram says when he first joined the family business, his role was simply to "observe and learn". He was educated simply by being present. A keen eye for rare jewels can develop with time, but no amount of classroom learning can replicate being a part of an active environment.
By the time JJ was in his thirties, he understood what it took to lead a high jewellery brand. The collectors he'd seen regularly as a young man now had their own children who were turning to him for high jewellery advice.
“For many people in my situation, your clients eventually become your friends," JJ explains. "You travel together, you go through life with them, and your children end up becoming friends too. They know I will be there to look after them in the future, and that is the difference."
Family jewellers specialise in time and trust
Trust is built over time. As family jewellers, we enjoy a certain freedom, creating a unique way of working. "I have all the time in the world to sit down with a collector," JJ says. "I don't have a quota of people to work with. So, if a client requires extra time or attention, I can give it to them. This is what we mean by providing exceptional customer service."
But the importance of time isn't solely linked to personal appointments. When JJ followed his father to become a jeweller, he did so out of passion. He wanted to write the next chapter in his family's brand story and pave the way for future generations.
“Collectors come to us to build their legacy," JJ says. "And we are their trusted advisors every step of the way."
Family jewellers are preserving something precious
Simon Abram, 1930's
People who are passionate about high jewellery tend to pass this quality down to the next generation. They buy for themselves with the knowledge that pieces will one day belong to their children and grandchildren. This generational thinking is inherent in both family jewellers and collectors.
"One of my favourite pastimes is telling clients stories about their parents and grandparents and how they started their collections," Ronald explains. "This becomes living history, and it means we are endeared to each other, just like a large extended family would be."
Despite the success of houses owned by luxury conglomerates, family is the true essence of what it means to be a high jeweller. If you explore the origins of most prestige brands, there is almost always a founding family whose influence remains, no matter how slight. Their contribution is an important facet of high jewellery history and explains how and why this industry flourished. The last remaining independent and family-run brands keep this history alive and reflect the essence of what it means to be a high jeweller.