In Leeds in the 1970s, David Silverton set out on a journey that would enrapture his family for decades to come. He founded a jewellery business.
Starting out selling silver jewellery into stores, D.I. Silverton soon grew into a more rarefied arena, specialising in diamonds and gold. At one point, it became the largest pearl dealer outside of London.
The company has since rebranded to Silverton Diamonds, with David’s son Charles Silverton at the helm. The gem and jewellery dealer still operates out of the same address in Leeds where David first started to plot his empire, but Charles also uses the London Diamond Bourse on the city’s famous jewellery street Hatton Garden as a base to meet clients in the South.
Silverton Diamonds will make its debut at The Jewellery Cut Live in association with Fuli Gemstones in 2021, and so we set out to find more about this thriving British business, taking five minutes out to talk with Charles Silverton.
Tell us about Silverton Diamonds.
“Although we now trade as Silverton Diamonds, our company is actually called D. I. Silverton Ltd. It was named after my father, David, who founded the business in 1975 and still works in it today. We are a genuine family business as my mother and my wife have worked in the business, and two years ago my nephew also joined the company to learn the trade.”
What gets you excited about a diamond or a coloured gemstone?
“Character! We are always looking at stones, sometimes thousands each day, and we have an appreciation for every one. However, sometimes a stone will just speak to us, which may sound a bit strange, but stones that have real fire or intrigue can be hard to put down. We get the same enjoyment from looking at fine rubies, sapphires or diamonds, but when you see a special stone, you know about it. Of course we can be critical of how a stone has been cut and polished, about its purity or even its colour, but in spite of those things, sometimes a stone can display real quality without being perfect in any of those areas.”
What made you want to work with gemstones?
“This is a tricky question to answer. I can’t honestly tell you that it was my ambition to work in the jewellery industry from a young age, but growing up around jewellery and gemstones, and learning about the industry almost subconsciously, I realised that there was a very exciting world to discover in fine jewellery and diamonds. And that with a little luck and hard work, we could be part of it.”
How do you source your gems?
“Our diamonds and gemstones are sourced from all around the world. We work with a handful of suppliers from Israel, Antwerp, Bangkok and New York, internationally, as well as a small number of suppliers here in the UK, most of whom are also our customers, which is a common quirk of our industry. We select stones based on how they look rather than their price and always try to be open minded. We often find beautiful stones in some of the less expensive parcels that we are offered.”
Have you come across any truly exceptional gems of late?
“We have recently been on a bit of a spending spree. We have focused on buying antique-cut diamonds, which we find to be so charming and very alluring, even at a slightly lower colour and clarity, and some beautiful natural fancy yellow diamonds for a forthcoming project.”
What are you working on now?
“As well as the fancy yellow diamond project, we have a couple of other very exciting projects that are ongoing. We are making a stunning bracelet, which will combine unheated Burmese spinel with fine diamonds, and another bracelet using natural fancy pink diamonds, which promises to be a very pretty piece when finished.”
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