For a city of understated style such as Bath, Mallory makes the ideal luxury emporium, blending tradition and modernity in a slightly quirky, quintessentially British way. The store has been a fixture of the Somerset city since 1898, when it was established by Edward Palmer Mallory, and today it is still family owned, with Patrick Mallory, grandson of the founder, as chairman, and Robert Vander Woerd, great-grandson, as managing director.
Over the past decade, the core jewellery business has expanded to encompass luxury brands, “lifestyle” accessories and watches, so that Mallory now spans a series of small, interconnecting shops that are both intimate and intriguing. At every corner you come across tempting, often surprising, objects and accessories: Smythson handbags (from £700), Brics luggage (from £220), Montegrappa pens (from £80), Mikimoto pearls (from £210) and Lalique glass (from £59). “It’s all in the mix,” explains Vander Woerd. “This is still a traditional jewellery business, but retail has changed; the customer is more discerning.”
The jewellery shows the same carefully edited eclecticism, from a small selection of antique pieces (Patrick Mallory’s speciality), including a circa-1890 diamond-cluster brooch/pendant (£4,750), to contemporary designs such as the ruby ring inspired by the architecture of Bath Abbey from Mallory’s Fair Trade collection (from £1,700). The roll call of innovative European brands features Roberto Demeglio (tactile, flexible), Marco Bicego (fresh and light), and Isabelle Fa (bold and strong). You’ll also find Pomellato (in its only retail outlet outside London), Roberto Coin and British jeweller Andrew Geoghegan (Satellite ring, £3,245, and pendant, £3,345). In-between is traditional and classic unbranded jewellery – diamonds in any size and a huge choice of engagement rings, in a wide range of prices (£800-£100,000). Many of these are made in Mallory’s own workshops, designed and crafted by Tom McDanielson, one of three goldsmiths on site, who all also work on bespoke commissions. Vander Woerd buys the gemstones himself – diamonds in Antwerp, coloured stones in Thailand – making his jewellery “pretty competitively priced”.
Watches, from Patek Philippe and Rolex to Chanel and Chopard, have become so successful that they have their own department. There’s a watchmaker for on-site repairs and, to set the tone, a model Mont Blanc ski-lift and Swiss train, which runs – with absolute precision and reliability – around the top of the shop.
What counts most at Mallory is the shopping experience, says Vander Woerd. “Jewellers have a reputation for being stuffy. We try to make our business fun. We’re often asking people to part with a lot of money – they have to enjoy it.”