Shopping: Check It Out; Olympia winter fine art and antiques fair

"THE WINTER Olympia is like an exclusive store," says Victoria Borwick, director of Olympia Winter Fine Art and Antiques Fair. "While luxurious items - from spectacular jewellery to elegant furniture - appeal to the serious collectors and buyers, other visitors appreciate the choice, particularly of decorative pieces, either for themselves or as gifts."

There will be 230 international dealers participating in this year's fair, which begins on Monday, and exhibits will encompass just about everything from candelabra to ceramics. Hoping to attract discerning buyers to this year's furniture dealers, Borwick points out the success of last year's variety of English furniture.

In addition to the furniture, though, there will also be a huge range of silver, including a pair of Benjamin Smith silver-gilt seven-light Regency candelabra. Antique-silver expert, Suzy Fitz Gerald of J H Bourdon- Smith Ltd, enjoys the "festive atmosphere" of Olympia, where visitors can make the most of the fact that "there are always unusual presents to suit all budgets."

Jewellery on display will include Anthea AG Antiques' 19th-century, pearl- and-15-carat-gold necklace and tiara (pounds 3,650), and Tadema's Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Sixties designs. Sonya Newell-Smith of the Tadema Gallery, a regular exhibitor at the Fair, is enthusiastic about the event. "It is always a good start to our busiest season," she explains.

This year's fair will also include a huge range of paintings. And, apart from the European exhibits on show, the fair also boasts a display of 20th-century Chinese lacquer work. If you would like to know more, Andrew Bolton, curator of the Far Eastern Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, will give a lecture on the Yangzhou loan exhibition at the fair on Wednesday 18 November, at 6.30pm.

For those here to spend, the good news is that, although the fair does attract a large number of collectors and knowledgeable buyers, help will always be on hand for those with less expertise. James Mitchell collects 18th- to 20th-century European watercolours and drawings, and recommends a return visit after last year's fair: "The combination of highly affordable, good quality exhibits in a relaxed and unpretentious fair seems to encourage a much greater degree of dialogue between dealers and visitors."

The Olympia Fine Arts and Antique Fair, from 16 to 22 November, National Hall, Olympia Exhibition Centre, Hammersmith Road, London W4. Entrance pounds 5. Advance tickets available on 0171 244 2219. Tickets for Andrew Bolton's lecture cost pounds 10 and can be obtained from Mary Claire Boyd on 0171 370 8345

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