Armed with an undergraduate degree in the History of Art and a Masters in the Study of the Country House, both from the University of Leicester, Melanie Saleem started her career volunteering at various museums and art galleries in conservation and collection management. However, an early work experience placement at Christies made her realise that she wanted to change tack slightly and join the faster-paced and varied world of auctions.
Her first professional post was as a saleroom assistant at Capes Dunn Auctioneers in Manchester, where she was encouraged to specialise in jewellery. Diplomas in Gemmology and Diamond Grading with the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (GEM-A) soon followed and she became FGA and DGA qualified. She then went on to become Head of the Jewellery Department at Tennants of Leyburn.
With a broad interest in Mid-century Modern Design, Melanie is an avid collector of Scandinavian jewellery. She particularly admires the work of David Andersen, whose simplistic designs reflect Norwegian lore, and a favourite piece in her own collection is a Lapponia Salamander necklace designed by Björn Weckström. He was one of the first jewellers to incorporate lucite in jewellery in the 1970s, and his popularity was sealed when Yoko Ono wore one of his creations on American television in 1975. He also designed the Planetoid Valleys necklace worn by Princess Leia in the 1977 film Star Wars! Another area of interest is Victorian mourning jewellery. The art of mourning was such a large part of Victorian society and – like many other eras – this type of jewellery reflects so closely the society in which it was created.
Melanie has vast experience in valuing and cataloguing all manner of contemporary and antique jewellery and gems. She particularly loves pieces with a story and one of her most memorable sales was a beautiful turquoise and diamond brooch gifted from Queen Victoria to her youngest daughter Princess Beatrice on her 14th birthday that sold for £7,500. Melanie looks forward to sharing her expertise and great passion of jewellery with Elstob and Elstob’s clients.