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Jeweller sues NHS for £125K after hospital error nearly ended his career

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A goldsmith has successfully sued a hospital for £125,000 after a freak accident left him without the use of his arm.

Master craftsman, Tony Bellingham, who has created jewels for high-profile brands including Cartier, Boucheron, and Tiffany & Co, was taken to hospital in 2017 after a suspected heart attack.

Whilst in hospital, he suffered a ruptured radial nerve and artery in his right arm when a doctor inserted a catheter incorrectly.

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Following a 10-hour procedure to save his arm, which had completely split open, the jeweller was left suffering with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – a pain that ranks higher on the McGill pain scale than amputation and childbirth.

The disease results in burning, stabbing, shooting and throbbing pain 24/7, with Bellingham even struggling to do basic things like clean his teeth, put on socks and wash his hands.

The jeweller, however, has now successfully sued the NHS hospital, which cannot be named for legal reasons, for £125,000.

And, while he once feared he would never be able to work again, three years ago he started to find the ability to hold tools for a short period of time and last year, with the help of his son, he re-launched his jewellery business, now aptly named Bellingham & Bellingham.

Having worked in Asprey’s on-site atelier for a decade, Bellingham learnt the finest minutiae of crafting objets d’art and high jewellery after qualifying not only as a master goldsmith, but garnering every professional qualification possible including designing, silver and goldsmithing, diamond mounting, hand engraving, lapidary, stone cutting and setting, electroforming, polishing and finishing.

Later on in his career the jeweller set up his own ateliers in Paris and London supplying legendary houses such as Hermes, Cartier, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, as well as collaborating with the senior designer for Tiffany & Co to create large intricate pieces of horology. He has also supplied eggs to Theodore Faberge’s London emporium.

Over the years Bellingham’s work has been coveted by experts in the trade, his sought-after craftsmanship commanding the highest prices. Needless to say, he is pleased that his provenance can now continue following the accident.

His first piece since the accident is a golden falcon finished with diamonds and sapphires – which is expected to sell to a Saudi Arabian client for £250,000.

The piece took over a year to make and Bellingham says using his craft again is helping to keep him going through the pain.

Tags : Bellingham & BellinghamFine JewelleryJewellerTony Bellingham
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The author Stacey Hailes

Editor, Professional Jeweller

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