|Industry||Jewellers and silversmiths|
|Headquarters||14 Grafton Street, W1S 4DE, London, England|
Emanuel Snowman, Nicholas Snowman|
Geoffrey Munn, Katherine Purcell, Kieran McCarthy
Wartski is a British family firm of antique dealers specialising in Russian works of art; particularly those by Carl Fabergé, fine jewellery and silver. Founded in North Wales in 1865, the business is now located at 14 Grafton Street in Mayfair, London. The company holds royal appointments as jewellers to the Queen and the Prince of Wales.
The firm was founded in Bangor, North Wales by Morris Wartski in 1865, a refugee from the Tsarist pogroms, who had established, first, a jewellery business on Bangor's High Street, and then a drapery store. His son, Isidore, went on to develop the drapery business and to create a large, fashionable, store. He also developed the Castle Inn on High Street in Bangor, into the high-class Castle Hotel. He was a popular mayor of the city and a patron of local sports and charities. Wartski Fields were bequeathed to the city and people of Bangor by his widow, Winifred Marie, in memory of Isidore Wartski.
Another of Morris's sons went on to develop the jewellery part of the business into an international player. Morris Wartski's two sons, Harry and Charles, went into the business but when Charles was injured in a cycling accident, the business was moved in 1907 to the seaside town of Llandudno for the sake of his health. The Marquess of Anglesey was the best customer and David Lloyd George was engaged as the firm's lawyer. When Charles died in 1914, Harry ran the business with his father Morris and two brothers-in-law S. M. Benjamin and Emanuel Snowman. After the death of Morris Wartski and Benjamin, Harry was joined in the business in Llandudno by his son, Charles Wartski, and a nephew, Cecil Manson. A second jewellery and antique establishment was opened in Mostyn street, Llandudno. So fond of Llandudno was Harry Wartski that when the firm opened a branch in London's New Bond Street in 1911, it was given the name of Wartski of Llandudno. The firm moved via premises in the Quarant Arcade Regent Street and 139 Regent Street to its current location at 14 Grafton Street, Mayfair. The firm's distinctive shop-front on Grafton Street, designed by John Bruckland in 1974, was grade II listed by English Heritage in 2012. It is a rare survival of innovative twentieth century retail architecture in Mayfair.
With the Russian revolution, many of the aristocracy took with them large quantities of jewellery made by Carl Fabergé, jeweller to the Tsar. The pieces found their way into shops all over Europe. Harry Wartski painstakingly tracked them down and bought them for his shop. He and Snowman also bought some pieces from the Soviet government, whose collection attracted Royal patronage to the firm. Emanuel Snowman travelled to the USSR from 1925 onwards to negotiate the purchase of former Romanov jewels and objets d'art from the Antiquariat, a commissariat established by the Bolsheviks to raise foreign currency. When King Farouk was deposed, Kenneth Snowman (Emmanuel Snowman's son) went to Cairo to buy up some of the Egyptian crown jewels which also included many Fabergé pieces.
(Abraham) Kenneth Snowman (1919–2002), ran the London shop and wrote standard works, The Art of Carl Fabergé (1953), followed by Carl Fabergé: Goldsmith to the Imperial Court of Russia and Eighteenth Century Gold Boxes of Europe (1966), written at the urging of Sacheverell Sitwell. As a curator, Snowman organised the exhibitions of Fabergé at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1977) and at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York (1983). He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1994 and appointed CBE for his services to the arts and to charitable institutions in 1997.
Wartski is owned by Nicholas Snowman, son of Kenneth and great-grandson of Morris Wartski. Geoffrey Munn is the present managing director of Wartski and is a well-known face on the BBC Antiques Roadshow; He is the author of several books on jewellery and is a Fellow of both The Society of Antiquaries and the Linnean Society. As curator he organised the exhibition "Tiaras" at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2002. Munn was appointed OBE in 2013 for services to charity. Katherine Purcell and Kieran McCarthy are further directors of the company.
Kieran McCarthy was instrumental in the rediscovery of the missing Third Imperial Fabergé Easter Egg. The Egg was exhibited at Wartski in April 2014, the last time it was exhibited was over 112 years earlier at the Von Dervis Mansion in Saint Petersburg.
In 2011, Wartski made the ring for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The ring was fashioned from a piece of Welsh gold given to Prince William by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2005, Wartski made the wedding rings for Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Wartski were sole sponsors of 'Bejewelled Treasures', the exhibition of Indian and Indian influenced jewellery from The Al Thani Collection staged at the Victoria and Albert Museum between November 2015 and March 2016.
- "Shop Front to Wartski, 14 Grafton Street, London, W1S 4DE". English Heritage. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- "Royal wedding: Anglesey leads celebrations across Wales". BBC News. 29 April 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- Singh, Anita (29 April 2011). "Royal wedding: Kate Middleton to wear band of traditional Welsh gold". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
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