twitter

History of the Firm

Wartski is a family firm of art and antique dealers, specialising in fine jewellery, gold boxes, silver and works of art by Carl Fabergé. The firm was founded in Bangor, North Wales in 1865 by Morris Wartski, maternal great-grandfather of the present day Chairman. By 1907, two shops had been established in the fashionable seaside resort of Llandudno. The business thrived under the patronage of King Edward VII and a colourful clientele including the fifth Marquis of Anglesey, whose penchant for playing ping-pong in an emerald set shirt is legendary.

 

Kenneth Snowman with Bing Crosby. The sign for Wartski's Regent Street premises can be seen in the background.
Kenneth Snowman with Bing Crosby. The sign for Wartski’s Regent Street premises can be seen in the background.

 

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wearing a sunburst ornament bought from Wartski
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wearing a sunburst ornament bought from Wartski

In 1911, Emanuel Snowman, Morris Wartski’s son-in-law, opened another branch of the firm in London. He was among the first to negotiate with the government of the Soviet Union in the 1920s, purchasing treasures that had been confiscated after the revolution of 1917.  For more than a decade he acquired many important works of art, including a gold chalice commissioned by Catherine the Great (now in the Hillwood Museum).

A. Kenneth Snowman, Emanuel’s son, built upon his father’s work, adding an academic dimension to the business through his pioneering research and exhibitions.  His first book, ‘The Art of Carl Fabergé, was published in 1953. Kenneth Snowman was immortalized by Ian Fleming, a Wartski customer, in the James Bond novella ‘Property of a Lady’, which described him in Wartski’s premises, then in Regent Street.

His son Nicholas Snowman succeeded him as Chairman and continues to support the firm’s welcoming and scholarly traditions.

Geoffrey Munn, the firm’s Managing Director, has written Castellani and Giuliano, Revivalist Jewellers of the Nineteenth Century’(1984), ‘The Triumph of Love – Jewellery 1530-1930’ (1993), ‘Tiaras: A History of Splendour’ (2001) and ‘Pre-Raphaelite to Arts and Crafts Jewellery’ (1989) with Charlotte Gere.  He curated the ‘Tiaras’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2002. Geoffrey is also one of the regular experts on the Antiques Roadshow.

Director Katherine Purcell has written the definitive study ‘Falize: A Dynasty of Jewellers’ (1999) and translated Henri Vever’s ‘French Jewellery of the Nineteenth Century’ (2001).  Amongst the exhibitions she has curated for Wartski are ‘Faberge and the Russian Jewellers’ (2006), ‘Japonisme: From Falize to Faberge’ (2011) and ‘Faberge – A Private Collection’ (2012).

Director Kieran McCarthy is a member of the advisory board of the Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg and has widely published and  lectured on the Imperial Russian Goldsmith’s work.  His most recent articles focused on the use of wood in Fabergé’s work and on a missing Imperial Easter Egg. He recently identified the original design source of the Constellation Egg. In 2010, he curated the exhibition ‘The Last Flowering of Court Art’, a private collection of Fabergé. Kieran was also instrumental in the republication of Dame Joan Evans, English Posies and Posy Rings by Wartski in 2012.

In 2011, Wartski made the ring for the wedding of H.R.H Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton. The ring was fashioned from a piece of Welsh gold given to Prince William by H. M Queen Elizabeth II. In 2005, Wartski made the wedding rings for H.R.H Prince Charles and Camilla, H.R.H 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 April 2016.