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"BY APPOINTMENT TO

THE QUEEN"

Elegant new Sydney salon displays jewels fit for royalty

When the only fully

Australian - owned company with a Royal "by appointment" Warrant from the Queen opened an exclusive show- room in Sydney last month, it was definitely a case of no tick - and not a lot of tock, either.

Old-established jewellers Hardy Brothers hoisted the royal coat of arms (silver- smith to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II) in Mar- ket Street and awaited their first customers in a shop so tiny that there was hardly room to swing a decent-sized tiara and an opening-night party had to be held in prem-

ises across the street.

Hardy Brothers modelled the shop on intimate jewel- lery salons popular with con- noisseurs and investors in Switzerland and Paris and promised that only the very best merchandise could be viewed. They offered a "pri- vate and elegant" atmos- phere with marble, wood pan- elling and leather inlays.

Customers, it was ex- plained, would probably pre- fer to be seated and there was the hint of tea being poured from a silver service.

A dazzling display of dia- monds, emeralds, sapphires and rich gold trinkets was as- sembled for opening day. The price tags came to match. . Nothing under $5000, with manager Lyle Dally almost apologizing for some pieces of exquisite hand-painted Worcester china from England and lapis lazuli figurines from France that did not measure up to that price. "We use them for after hours window dressing," he explained.

The piece de resistance, with the most resistible price, came at $105,413 - a wrist- watch encrusted with 153 em- eralds and 83 diamonds set in 18 carat yellow gold. A

Hardy Brothers executive chairman Christopher Skase out- side the shop. The coat of arms came from England.

ABOVE: The view from the manager's desk in the new shop. RIGHT: Going for $105,413 - and the tick comes later. The diamond and emerald watch, flanked by a matching ring for $12,833, a diamond pendant, "diamonds are still a airl's

best friend," and ruby brooch.

Pictures are by Kevin Brown.

matching ring - jewellers call the ensemble a "suite" - sported 20 diamonds and 32 emeralds and was regarded as a snip at $12,833.

Mr Dally said the face of the watch was pave - which used to be French for cobble- stones - but now turns out to be a new process of coat- ing a surface with crushed

diamonds.

Telling the time was im- possible, for there was no watch movement inside the case and therefore not the slightest twinge of a tick.

"Import regulations do not permit us to import clock- work mechanisms with this type of merchandise," said Mr Dally, hastening to say that the very finest move-

ment would be installed as soon as there was a buyer. *

Christopher Skase, a for- mer finance journalist who is now executive chairman of Hardy Brothers, said the new style of shop was in line with the requirements of serious

investors overseas.

"Buyers want time to sit 1 and enjoy the pieces. You , have to really love a piece, to j feel that it is right, before you spend that kind of money.

"Lay-bys? Well - er- ne I suppose it could be arranged, but people who buy this sort of thing usually

have the cash in hand.

"We expect most of the business to be by appoint- ment. We could call it the carriage trade, only there is nowhere to park a car."

Mr Skase said that dia- monds were still a girl's best

friend - provided the man j remembered to give them to her and did not regard them simply as a personal invest- ment. "If anything, the men with a shrewd eye are spend- ing more. They will say, 'That's very nice, but couldn't we find something a little

more expensive?' "

- ROBIN OLIVER

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