Simms' city

Our diarist Freya Simms shows us around her favourite London haunts…


Bonhams had their fine jewellery sale on view in Bond Street the other week so I popped in to take a look at one of the hottest stones doing the rounds in London this year.

Tipped off by gem specialist Jean Ghika, (the go-to person when someone pops the question), I went to see the stunning, vivid blue diamond and diamond crossover ring (pictured) made by Bulgari - which fetched a sparkling £1,889,250.

The collector’s father had commissioned the ring from the legendary Italian jewellery house as a gift for his wife in the mid-sixties – when Bulgari was at the height of fashion. 

Also on offer were some beautiful pieces from the Georgian period, including an exquisite pair of diamond pendant earrings that went for a mere snip at £18,750. Both of which I was invited to try on and was easily persuaded to!

Nicky Haslam’s fantasy boudoir complete with Venus shell bed

Then it was off to view Decorex at the Royal Hospital Chelsea with Emma Rutherford and Catherine Mould. We were looking to glean ideas for their exciting winter projects at the Philip Mould Gallery.

Once you’ve filtered out the sea of cushions it’s a great source of inspiration with some surprising deals for new and original furniture that will keep you ahead of the trends.

My favourite picks included Nicky Haslam’s fantasy boudoir complete with Venus shell bed (pictured), delicious furniture by Julian Chichester and fantastic hand-printed wallpapers with witty twists by Barnaby Gates. But perhaps doing the best trade was the And So to Bed’s beach hut’s ice-cream stall on a particularly steamy Indian Summer Autumnal day.

That same week The Decorative Antiques and Textile Fair had one of its three yearly outings at Battersea Park. It’s a great place to go for affordable pieces from Chateaux shabby chic to quintessentially British antiques. The American decorators seem to always make a beeline for the kitchenalia on sale – including decorative butter pats and delightfully extravagant Victorian jelly moulds. 

Gazette Battersea

Post fair I went out to dinner with some of the exhibitors to Gazette Battersea – a delightful brasserie found in a rather unprepossessing development in Wandsworth.

Don’t be put off though, the French Brasserie food is delicious, there’s a good wine list and a bustling atmosphere.

A few days later I strolled down London’s only original Regency shopping centre, the Burlington Arcade, which was built in 1819 ‘for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand’. This unique cluster of independent shops and galleries is currently gaining as many column inches for its development plans as it is for the exquisite and original wares on offer. 

Degas exhibition London

This stroll was with a purpose – to meet the lovely and glamorous Charlotte Heath-Bullock, (doyenne of all things fabulous), who had invited me to a private view of Degas and the Ballet: Picturing movement, an exhibition at the Royal Academy that focuses on Edgar Degas’s preoccupation with movement as an artist of the dance.

It traces the development of the artist’s ballet imagery throughout his career, from the documentary mode of the early 1870s to the sensuous works of his final years.

One of the pieces that best reflect his obsession with movement is a lovely charcoal sketch titled simply Dancer loaned by Mayfair and Manhattan based gallery Trinity House Paintings.

Post show we went to the ever bustling (and full) Cecconis, where somehow, and with great charm, they always seem to squeeze one in. We sipped Prosecco, caught up on the gossip, and dined on delicious cichetti at the bar. A perfect ending to the week!


Freya Simms is managing director of Gong Muse a Strategic Communications agency for the art and luxury markets and winner of PRCA Agency Campaign of the year 2011.



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