From even a young age, Josie loved trips to London from Dorset, when her mother would take her to the Victoria & Albert Museum which holds one of the most important collections of jewellery in the world, with over 3000 pieces, some of which date back to 800 BC. The museum holds some beautiful stones however, it was the mid-17th century onwards’ that really grabbed me her, Jewels which were worn by Kings, Queens and the aristocrats of the day. She was fascinated by the history of these stones and ornaments, which were not only a symbol of wealth and luxury, but tiny pieces of art in themselves – sentimental gifts passed through from generation to generation. Oddly, it was only while researching The Londonderry Jewels a few years ago for an article, that she realised that some of the most important pieces of the collection in fact once belonged to a relative of hers. Lady Theresa Chetwynd-Talbot, daughter of the 19th Earl of Shrewsbury, was the second cousin twice removed of her grandmother, Mary Chetwynd-Talbot. Lady Theresa married the 6th Marquess of Londonderry and consequently came into possession of one of the most superb collection of jewels in the United Kingdom, after that of Queen Victoria.
While Josie was reading French at Exeter University, she was lucky enough to spend a year in Paris, working firstly in the press office of Chanel Parfums & Beauté, and then that of Christian Dior. Whilst at Dior she worked on women’s prêt a porter and couture, but also helped with the very early collections of Victoire de Castellane, the jewellery director at Christian Dior since 1999. As well as immersing herself in these two iconic fashion houses, she spent a great deal of time in The Louvre and its large and extensive collection of jewellery, which included many of the French Crown Jewels. Josie also spent time with a French friend who had worked for both Van Cleef and Chaumet, and taught her a lot about high jewellery, diamonds and other precious stones. By the time she left Paris, Josie had decided that she wanted to work in the jewellery industry.
Her first job in London was for the publicist and PR, Simon Astaire whose Public Relations office looked after Bvlgari and the newly created Ritz Fine Jewellery. Alongside my role liaising with the press, Josie took great pleasure in accompanying the jewellery on the various photoshoots we for Vogue, Tatler, Harpers & Queen (as it then was) and other glossy publications. Josie also spent a great deal of time in the Philip Baldwin Ritz Fine Jewellery boutique at The Ritz, helping clients and consequently even more about these exquisite jewels, as well as doing her own research, at every opportunity.
Five years later, having a year spent living in South Africa, the land of diamonds, and a stint satisfying her wanderlust in travel PR; Josie landed the job of a lifetime with the diamond king, Laurence Graff, as Head of PR at his eponymous fine jewellery house, Graff Diamonds. It was there that she really learnt as much as she could about this world, about not just luxury jewellery but diamonds themselves, the people who make them, and of course – the people who buy them. From flying out to New York for a week to help our NYC PR organise the launch of the Madison Avenue flagship store to visiting The Cullinan Mine in South Africa, where the most important diamonds in the Crown Jewels were mined in 1906. She launched Graff’s FACET Foundation, travelled with him to open a leadership centre for girls in Lesotho and organised and helped curate a charity auction of contemporary art at Christie’s in London. But most importantly, Graff gave her the opportunity to handle such magical gemstones and pieces of jewellery like nowhere else.
After a few years at Graff, Josie was offered a job in a gold mining firm in Monaco and decided that it would be a good addition to her education of gemstones. Not long afterwards, Josie decided that she was going to follow her passion and write fiction based on the fine jewellery world and after a few years, her debut novel, The Diamond Connection, was published independently. Thanks to its success and favourable criticism, she followed this with two further novels.: The Christmas Connection and The Monte Carlo Connection. Each of the novels (there are many more planned) are semi roman a clefs and are heist mysteries based on real jewellery. The Monte Carlo Connection was published in June 2019 and launched in Monte Carlo at The Fairmont Hotel and at David Morris the London Jeweller on Bond Street. She carried a tour of southern England talking at venues and events including Soho Farmhouse, Babington House, My Wardrobe HQ and Mere Literary Festival.
She has almost finished writing the fourth novel in the series of jewellery mysteries starring the intrepid diamond detective Jemima Fox and set in Paris. Each new story has her knee deep in beautiful jewellery books for research and interviewing fascinating characters in the industry. Alongside this, she has carried out copywriting projects for various luxury brands – including The De Beers Group and Forevermark, Niquesa and 77 Diamonds. Worked on sales for national jewellery auctions – and even helped to sell a Graff yellow diamond ring for £400k more than its estimate at auction in Birmingham. She is also a jewellery hunter/buyer jewellery for a wealthy woman at antique markets and shops, and auction.
Josie talks historical, and not so historical, jewellery heists and mysteries, as well sustainability in the diamond industry and the colourful world of coloured diamonds.