The Royal Jewellers S01 ep3 : William Asprey Jewellery [London]
Interview with William Asprey
The Maharaja in India were wonderful clients of ours and in a way perhaps that’s
a part of history that the British Empire has been a great, sort of, supplier of
William and Son is a luxury store. The purpose of this shop is for me to be able
to continue doing what my family are good at.
I am 7th generation.
KM: And what was the Asprey family doing in the first generation?
In the first generation we were Calico printers, French Huegenots who came
over from France in the 1700’s and the French Huegenots were traditionally
the artisans and craftsmen and we were in Bond Street for 150 years.
The company became famous when it won its award of the Great Exhibition.
We won awards for our travel cases, for luggage and then progressing from
there to putting more emphasis into the contents of the bags. The hair brushes
became silver, they became ivory, they became inlaid. The Royal Warrants
were for goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewellers. Gold smithing I would think has
always been very strong with the objet and things with which historically we
We survived because of the variety of products and then of course our own
workshops, our own design studios. And then of course someone would come
in and say, Oh I like that but could I slightly change it? And the answer is Oh
yes of course.
To me it is the creating of new and usual things that no one else has. Going to
customers, the travelling and taking ideas, working with the client and coming
up with something unique you know unique.
KM: When you say that what sort of products are we talking about particularly?
It can be anything from a commemorative statue, to a box, to a sort of head of
state presidential object.
People dent them and then have to have them polished out which then means
that the pressure builds up in certain places and it can blow the barrels.
KM: What is the difference between yourself and your father?
He built the company into what it was. His strengths are obviously his passion
for the business, which I think I have as well, but he trained as a watchmaker
on the bench at Patek Phillipe in Geneva. That’s his love, his passion his forte.
Because of my family history people know us they, have something unique and
special they will call us and they will say, hey you know I've got something
special I would like you to see it. So we will go and see it or they will bring it to
us. O.k. we say we have, 1, 2, 3 clients who we really think this would just
knock their socks off and they would have to have it. When you are talking
about very special items you don't want them put in a shop window. You don't
want them touted around the world. They have to be carefully and selectively
I have taken three trunks full of goods to a client - you are asked to come and
you go. When they see you is obviously when they have the time. So yes you
might have to wait for a week. Luckily with the advent of mobile phones you
can actually wait slightly further away.
KM: thank God for that.
In the old days of course, you would have to sit in your hotel room by the
phone waiting for it to ring.
Oh yes, because you did not know when they were just going to call. And if
you missed that phone call that that might be the one and only chance.
KM: What is the most important thing you have ever sold?
I suppose I involved in the sale of a Malachite fountain.
KM: A malachite fountain?
About 10 foot high and ten feet across and I sent picture of it to a client and I
happened to be out shooting and I got a call on my mobile and the chap said,
right we want it and we need it next week.' So I said fine.
KM: So was it existing?
No , no it was existing, we made it for stock.
KM: You made a malachite fountain?
KM: When was this?
This was about 5 years ago. So when I was still in Bond Street, not from here.
KM: What is the most beautiful thing you've encountered?
The most beautiful thing that I have had the pleasure to have, to hold very,
very briefly and then to sell, was a model out of one piece of aquamarine,
about this high of a falcon, carved by one of the best carvers in Germany. It
was just incredible and every feather and every detail, the eyes were sapphire,
cabochon sapphires, gold beak. It was just immaculate
Now a days you cannot tell who is who. People walk through the door and you
have absolutely no idea
If the son of one of the sheiks in the Gulf phones up and goes “I am going
shooting do you want to come”. I’m going to say, yeah why not.
KM: You do that sort of thing?
Yeah, I've been asked, I've been. I've been on a fathers and son shoot, which
was great fun.
KM: What the father shoot the son or the ..
No, No they weren't going out together and it was fantastic.
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