McTear’s Auctioneers is one of the UK’s largest independent auction houses, founded in 1842 and specialising in art, whiskey and jewellery.
Here jewellery specialist Amy Cameron talks how a family history in the industry led to her applying for a job at a jewellers, the difficulty of parting with the luxury items she sells, and why the Scots do comedy better than anyone.
How many years have you worked in the jewellery sector and how did you get into the industry?
Seven years! I left my job in IT not really knowing what I wanted to do so I got a job in a jewellers and it went from there.
I’d say that my mum’s passion for diamonds and family involvement in the gold and diamond trades in South Africa meant that it was natural for me to enter the jewellery industry when the opportunity presented itself.
What’s the first thing you do when you get into work in the morning?
I make a cup of tea, check my valuation appointments and plan out my day in my diary. Having a list of tasks that I want to work through means that I can keep on top of everything and run my departments smoothly.
What’s your most memorable moment in the industry to date?
When a client purchased a very expensive diamond bracelet as a gift for his daughter’s wedding day without seeing it.
He put his total trust in me and had faith in my expertise which is the biggest compliment that I have ever received.
To have someone spend tens of thousands of pounds on something without seeing it in person is very risky and you have to have immense confidence in the specialist.
Thankfully, the client and most importantly, his daughter, were over the moon and have kept in touch ever since.
What do you most enjoy about working in the industry?
I love that I get to work with jewellery created by some of the world’s finest jewellery maisons such as Asprey and Boucheron, amongst others.
Some of the items that I get to work with are absolutely outstanding vintage items requiring the talent of the finest craftsmen of their time and on the other hand, some are chic, modern items created by up and coming jewellers today.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Having to part with the beautiful items that I work with! It’s nice that I get to take care of them for a while before they go to their new homes.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
There’s no such word as ‘can’t’. My dad would, and still does, say this to me when I say that I can’t do something and it’s so true.
Which other company or brand (inside or outside the industry) do you most admire and why?
Theo Fennell. I was lucky enough to attend a private evening with him a few years ago. He is an incredibly talented yet humble man as well as a magnificent designer.
He produces some of the most unique jewellery and being able to see it go from a drawing in his notebook to a completed piece within his showroom is incredible.
His passion for jewellery radiates throughout the building which makes it a joy to step into his showroom.
Tell us something about yourself that none of your colleagues know?
I was an IT technician long before I began my career in jewellery. I worked for a plant & tool hire company and it taught me how to be a true professional at a very young age.
It also showed me how to work within a heavily male dominated industry as well as being the only female in the department but very luckily, I worked with an incredible team of guys and the values that I was taught at that company have remained with me until this day.
If you won the lottery, what one luxury item or experience would you buy?
I’d love to go to South Africa and follow the journey of a diamond from mine to market and meet the people involved with all aspects of the journey.
It’s easy to forget the humble beginnings of diamonds but it’s something that I’d love to experience.
If you could invite any three people to a dinner party, who would they be?
Alexander McQueen, Elvis and Grace Kelly. Can you imagine the stories that they would tell?!
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love being out in the fresh air and going on nice walks, especially when it’s a nice day. Scotland has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and it’s fantastic to get to experience it on your doorstep.
What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Watching reruns of Rab C Nesbitt. It’s good old Scottish humour which never fails to have you rolling about laughing. You’ll never have a dull moment when you’re in the presence of a Glaswegian!