The Simplest of Etruscan Earrings

Presenting the Martin & Stein Fine Jewellery Collection

More than a quarter of a century ago, I remember learning that at one point in the Queen Victoria Building’s history, demolition was contemplated. One walk of its perimeter and then its interior renders such a notion, for me anyway, breathtakingly outrageous. Thankfully, it never happened and the building flourishes with a myriad of traders from the practical to the luxurious. 

Martin & Stein. Jewellery auction. Leonard Joel
Art Deco diamond double-clip brooch, Circa 1930. Estimate $15,000-20,000

One of the traders in the rare and the beautiful was Martin & Stein, where one would find the finest period gold jewellery as well as diamond and precious stone pieces that embraced Art Deco and the inter-war periods of design. In short, it was a veritable schatzkammer of jewels and its ever-changing collection was a regular on the shopping lists of discerning tourists not shy of a dollar and similarly minded Sydney-siders. 

My impression from my visits was of welcoming character and humour. This was how James and Annemie Stein made me feel, as a young man with a few years of jewellery auctions under my belt. The stock remained overwhelming and created an intimidating but still attractive atmosphere. On one of my visits, I had the courage to call with my now wife, Joanne. All those years ago, Jo was looking for something; something little, something affordable. Not easy at Martin & Stein, but she found the simplest of Etruscan gold ball earrings from the Victorian era. She still wears and loves them today and like so many things we humans accumulate, they will always be tied to a place – Martin & Stein. 

In Leonard Joel’s history, we have been engaged to manage the sale of every significant jewellery collection. They are rare events in a country the size of Australia and you would only need two hands to count how many opportunities there have been. To state the obvious, The Martin & Stein Fine Jewellery Collection Auction on 6 June in Sydney is a rare window for the lover of jewellery to bid for pieces at cost, and with the knowledge that each item’s last place of origin was one of Sydney’s great jewellers that never compromised on quality and always looked for the history in every piece they presented. 

Chairman / Head of Important Collections

Banner Image: The Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, former home of Martin & Stein (bottom right) / Alamy

May 2023