Heather takes time out to start a Stone valuing service

Stone’s Heather Callaway will be taking time out of her busy travelling career to value jewellery right here in Stone.

Heather told the Gazette

“ I wanted to launch an expert jewellery valuation company within the town vicinity, offering appointments where clients don’t have to be parted from their jewellery items.”


A look into a Jewellery valuers career…..

1. What does your typical week involve?

Fortunately, my typical week is always quite varied. It would include meeting private clients at my office in Staffordshire or travelling out to see them at their private residence. I undertake trade valuation work and carry out valuation event days on behalf of different retail jewellers and auctioneers, which are great fun. You just never know what is going to creep across the valuation desk.

I am also a consultant valuer for the Birmingham Assay office, which gives me marvellous perspective on how a large and successful valuation company operates on a commercial basis. This is coupled with the benefit to work alongside other experienced valuers which is a major plus to my week. Having that integration and the ability to bounce off each other for considered opinion is invaluable.

Well, those are the paid jobs…!

Another facet to my week, which I thoroughly enjoy , is working with the National Association of Jewellers.

I am the Chairman for the Education Steering Group committee of the NAJ. Our steering group members include various leading industry experts who are all willing to share their time and effort for the benefit of the NAJ members. It is an absolute privilege, to be at the centre, the hub which focus is to provide education courses for our jewellery trade. This is my passion, that chance to be able to give something valuable back to our community.

2, What task today are you most looking forward to?

I have an absolute treasure of an item lurking in the safe, which I am dying to get my hot sticky mitts on. A mid-20th Century Cartier ‘hand’ brooch, a lady’s delicate hand holding a flower, the wrist has a dainty bangle embellished with diamonds, signed and numbered. I am looking forward to spending time researching this one.

2. Which task do you wish you could postpone?

That is an easy one to answer, as it is something I loathe. Informing clients of bad news. There are many times when an item arrives at my desk and has sadly been mis-sold. It is never an easy conversation. However, this does illustrate how important it is to purchase jewellery items from a credible and trustworthy source and reaffirms the importance to have jewellery professionally valued by an Institute Registered Valuer.

3. How did you get to where you are today?

A lot of hard graft! My journey started within a local retail jewellery shop, Plants the Jewellers in my home town. I fell in love with our trade and rose very quickly from starting out as the Saturday girl, to becoming the shop floor manager. I developed my education, studying for my gemmology and diamond diplomas alongside my work. I built my experience and valuation portfolio to apply to be an NAG Registered Valuer (prequel to the IRV). This led me to pursue my passion for antique jewellery. I made the move from retail, to head the jewellery department for Fellows Auctioneers in Birmingham working alongside a team of twelve passionate jewellery individuals. From there, with the encouragement and support of my husband, I decided to go it alone to become an Independent valuer. I set up my own limited company, which I must be honest I have never looked back from. Best decision I have ever made.

4. Who is your role model and why?

The late Stephen Hawkings, the renowned British physicist. I recently watched the ‘The Theory of Everything’ which portrayed his brilliant mind and reiterated his astonishing journey and wonderous accomplishments to the fields of cosmology and quantum physics. Whilst enduring his debilitating illness, that inner strength to continue his work, shows such strength of mind. Brought a few tears to my eyes, I must say. A role model for one and all.

5. What has been your career highlight to date?

One of my trade clients is the House of Garrards in London. Even now, a couple of years in. I am still in complete ore of the general spender. To be the valuer of the longest serving jewellery house in the world with all its royal connections is something I am very proud of.

6. If you could change one thing about your career path what would it be?

To have taken the decision to become independent sooner. It has given such scope and flexibility in my work. I wish I had been brave enough to make that decision sooner.

7. Who is your inspiration?

My first employer – Avril Plant, from Plants the Jewellers, she has been a huge voice of encouragement, strength and faith throughout my career journey and still is to this day. She keeps having these daft notions to retire and I keep raining her back to help with different projects.

8, What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?

This might sound a bit odd. I am hoping fellow valuers might apricate the context. ‘If you look an item long enough, it will tell you the answer’. This was said to me on multiple occasions by the late Brian Dunn. Who incidentally, was a previous in-house valuer for Asprey & Garrard some years ago. It is interesting how things turn out with myself being there now. In my early, whippersnapper days, I had great difficulty in processing the fact valuing is not an exact science. It’s no mean feat, there are not any black and white answers. It is an evolving science. This little turn of phrase, which is by modern terms is #calmdownyoucandothis used to make me smile, gave me great comfort and confidence.

9, How do you see your career progressing?

Well, I’m in midst of signing off my new website which is very exciting and has been monopolising my time. Website design is by no means my forte of expertise!

I am looking to expand my private practice. I have recently acquired a lovely new office in Stone ‘strictly by appointment’ and I want to focus the business to collaborate with other industry associates and offer more consultancy and advisory services.

10, What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Becoming an Institute Registered Valuer is a fantastic career choice. We are very fortunate to be in a very giving trade. By that, I mean the wealth of knowledge and expertise and willingness to share is abundant. My advice – ‘never ever stand still and rest on your laurels’. You are only and ever will be as good as your continual learning and professional development. It is of paramount importance to stay, current, informed and up to speed of latest developments in all areas of the trade. The NAJ have just launched their ‘Practical Valuation Techniques’ this is a three-day course which is an excellent and unique learning opportunity to be ‘hands on’ gaining the fundamental practical valuation techniques. Aiming to prepare you to continue your studies to becoming an NAJ Institute registered valuer. Go to as many seminars, educational courses and talks as you possibly can. I learn something new every week. Be a sponge, soak it all up and enjoy.

8. If you could work in another area of the industry, what would it be?

I have always been envious of the creatives amongst us and the proficient skills of the designer makers. Having that ability to transfer a visual concept from your mind into a jewellery masterpiece is a skill set to aspire to.