Susie Rushton: The truth about life in a posh jewellers'

Urban Notebook
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Whether or not we're all guilty of finding jewellery heists less despicable than other crimes, as a former employee of an extremely famous bauble-seller just steps away from Graff, the store targeted in this week's £40m grab, I know that a dramatic robbery will have been a high point for the scores of people who work on this stretch of Bond Street.

For 18 months, I had a job in a similar store specialising in million-pound gewgaws. The popular "pieces" were the pointlessly complex chronograph watches that made Arab men drool, and the overpriced engagement rings bought by bankers – overpriced because, as the Graff thieves will discover when they sell their haul for the raw metals and stones, the big names of fine jewellery indulge in excessive mark-ups for craftsmanship that isn't superior to antique work or those items with a lesser-known provenance.

In our boutique the showpieces (bracelets studded with emeralds the size of M&Ms, vile animal brooches spotted with gemstones, watches paved with diamonds) were regularly dusted and polished, but rarely did anything as vulgar as an actual sale take place. Major transactions were made not in the deliberately hushed and darkened atmosphere of the shop itself, but in the hotel rooms of the super-rich: the most senior salesman in the store would take a case of his finest jewels to a client (it always seemed to be Elton John) accompanied by a guard.

The sales staff worked on commission, of course, leading to some spiky competitiveness on the shop floor that occasionally spilled over into backbiting in the fetid tea-and-smoking area hidden in the basement of the building. But on most days, everybody watched the clock, mechanically packed and unpacked goods in satin-lined caskets, or smiled fixedly as yet another customer darted around the cabinets "only looking".

Latex face masks, an audacious getaway, the "warning shots", hostage-taking, the Flying Squad sniffing around: these thieves shouldn't be glamorised but in one swoop they have saved dozens of Bond Street sales staff from another summer of crushing boredom.

Isn't life wonderful!

Hello everyone, The Blonde here! You don't really know me, but guess what? I've dyed my hair! It used to be, well, blonde but now it's brown, and I'm a bit depressed about that because the father of my kids, the Sunday Times restaurant critic AA Gill, liked my old hair colour so much that he rather adorably nicknamed me "The Blonde" in all his columns. So now I'm having an identity crisis, and it was all over the front page of the London Evening Standard on Wednesday. That's right, the front page, with a big picture of me! Isn't August fabulous?