Although I started my journey with Heirlooms in 2017, the full story started in 1986 when it was founded by gemmologist Gabrielle Young and her watchmaker husband Michael. The shop used to occupy the left-hand side of the current building at 21 South Street (where Paul’s the Barbers is now) but quickly moved into the other half of the building at 21 South Street when the business grew and a larger shop with more cabinet space was required.
The building used to be a pub and large parts of it date back to the 18th century. The original flag stone floor can be found in our workshop area and we have recently uncovered a rather stunning Victorian fireplace that had been boarded up.
Heirlooms became the only jewellery shop in Wareham in the late 1980’s when the other town jeweller, Aungers, closed. It was the only specialist retailer of antique jewellery in the area that also offered a specialist repair and restoration service for antique jewellery, silver, clocks and watches. It remains so today.
In 2017, Gabrielle and Michael decided to retire and I bought the business from them. I had known Gabrielle and Michael from my time as an Auctioneer and Jewellery Valuer at Duke’s in Dorchester and I used to take pieces of jewellery to Gabrielle for her expert opinion.
I had always loved the shop and spent my first ever bonus from Duke’s on a French amethyst and rose quartz egg pendant and chain from Heirlooms! I remember it cost £175 and I remember thinking it was such a bargain. I am still wearing it, 12 years later!
The shop originally only sold jewellery that pre-dated 1930. We now pride ourselves on selling jewellery from all different periods, including 1960’s and 1980’s jewellery as well as modern pre-owned and new jewellery but our first love is what we specialise in – antique jewellery.
Our repair and restoration service has expanded and we can now restore not just jewellery, but the movements of clocks and watches, their cases too, as well as silver and silver plate, and bronze. We can even rebind antique books!
We continue to use the same workshop for our watches and jewellery repairs as we did when the shop first opened in 1986. Our clock maker has retired but we use a local clock specialist who comes to us with over 30 years of experience. All of our workshops are within a 25 mile radius of the shop which means that we can offer a quicker service.
Advances in our workshop over the years, mean that we can now offer laser repairs to the most delicate of antique jewellery especially those containing organic materials such as opal, pearl and ivory.
And so the journey continues!