Annette Gabbedey, a 48-year-old jeweller who learned her craft in Hatton Garden, was born without fingers yet manages to create beautiful, intricate jewellery that sells for up to £25,000. Her range of earrings, bracelets and rings are handcrafted from gold and set with opals, diamonds and other precious stones.
Perhaps surprisingly, Annette uses no special tools to create her pieces, instead of relying on a leather wrist strap to hold files and a vice to keep the piece she’s working on in place. She commented: “It really is just fingers I am missing. I’ve got the joints and the movements which means I have got the dexterity to be able to hold small items.”
Annette studied jewellery-making throughout her school and college years before going on to train with expert craftspeople in London’s Hatton Garden. Today, she is renowned as one of the UK’s finest jewellers and an opal specialist and serves as an inspiration to children facing similar challenges who are interested in working in the jewellery industry.
Her positive approach towards the challenges she faces is obvious – she insists she is not disabled and says: “Lots of people have challenges of different types and mine, I suppose, is my hands. But I don’t really see them as a challenge – it is just how they are.”