Primrose Hill ‘trailblazer’ made first chairwoman of top jewellers association

Harriet Kelsall. Picture: Lars Christiansen

Harriet Kelsall. Picture: Lars Christiansen - Credit: Archant

A trailblazing bespoke jeweller who has recently opened a shop in Primrose Hill has become the first female chair of the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ).

Harriet Kelsall, who set up Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellers from her Primrose Hill kitchen table 20 years ago, was confirmed as chairwoman at the national body’s AGM on June 14.

“It’s an exciting time,” she tells us. Her Primrose Hill branch only opened three months ago, as she returned “home” to set up her jewellers second branch and workshop.

“When we wanted to come to London, I didn’t think of Primrose Hill straight away.

“We have a lot of customers in London, and we wanted to base ourselves somewhere with a strong community.”

The link between when Harriet starting her business in the area two decades ago, and returning to open her new branch is made more surreal by the fact she can see her old flat from her Regent’s Park Road shop front window.

“It’s quite funny, it was a betting shop back then and I didn’t pay much attention to it.”

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Since starting the business, it has grown from Harriet’s kitchen table to shops and studios in Cambridge, Hertfordshire and Primrose Hill. She told the Ham&High that when she first embarked on the business, she had to explain to people what the word “bespoke” meant.

The 47-year-old has been vice chair of the NAJ for the past two years, and has prioritised ethics and education in her role. The education aspect of the role is one she particularly enjoys.

“I enjoy helping young people develop, and kick on. We have sixteen designers and they’re all at different stages and I help provide direction to them.”

Such is the lack of precedent for having a woman at the top of the NAJ, that the medallion says “Chairman” on it. As a result, as newly installed chairwoman, she’s commissioning a competition for a new medal to be designed. Despite taking on more managerial positions in recent years, she still finds time to design and make some pieces. Her favourite pieces in recent years include a ring for a magician with a secret compartment, and a octopus style ring. “I get a kick out of it all,” she says. “One thing I love is when people come in with sentimental jewellery but they want it changed. It becomes like glamorous recycling.”