Wartski – London
14 Grafton Street
London, W1S 4DE
Phone: +44 (0)20 7493 1141
Founded in North Wales in 1865, Wartski is a family firm of art and antique dealers specializing in fine jewelry, gold boxes, silver and works of art by Carl Fabergé. The firms founder, Morris Wartski, is the maternal great-grandfather of the present day Chairman, making Wartski a fourth-generation purveyor of fine jeweled works of art.
By 1907, Wartski established two shops in the fashionable seaside resort of Llandudno. During the early 20th century, the business thrived under the patronage of King Edward VII and a colorful clientele that included the fifth Marquis of Anglesey, whose penchant for playing ping-pong in an emerald set shirt is legendary.
In 1911, Emanuel Snowman, Morris Wartski’s son-in-law, extended the firm to London, setting up shop on New Bond Street – though the firm has since relocated to its current location at 14 Grafton Street, Mayfair. With the Russian revolution causing its wealthy aristocracy to flee westerly, they brought with them large quantities of jeweled treasures, of which the firm bought a number for the shop. Snowman was among the first to negotiate with the government of the Soviet Union in the 1920s, purchasing confiscated treasures of the Romanovs after the revolution of 1917. For more than a decade, he acquired many important works of art, including a gold chalice commissioned by Catherine the Great (now in the Hillwood Museum).
A. Kenneth Snowman, Emanuel’s son, built upon his father’s work, adding an academic dimension to the business through his pioneering research and exhibitions. His first book, ‘The Art of Carl Fabergé, was published in 1953. Kenneth Snowman was immortalized by Ian Fleming, a Wartski customer, in the James Bond novella ‘Property of a Lady’, which described him in Wartski’s premises, then in Regent Street. A curator at heart, Snowman also organized the exhibitions of Fabergé at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 1977 and at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York in 1983.
Snowman’s son Nicholas, the current Chairman, now runs the prestigious Wartski firm and continues to support its welcoming and scholarly traditions.
A fun fact to note, Wartski created the ring for the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge which took place on April 29, 2011. The ring of the bride was fashioned from a piece of Welsh gold given to Prince William by Queen Elizabeth II.