Meet Leeds family jewellers Aladdin's Cave bringing antique treasures into the 21st century

It's passed through three generations, stood firm during recessions and now survived a global pandemic.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 29th August 2021, 11:45 am
Mum-and-daughter team Roberta Swift, 67, and Jessica Spencer, 40, run Aladdin's Cave in Queens Arcade
Mum-and-daughter team Roberta Swift, 67, and Jessica Spencer, 40, run Aladdin's Cave in Queens Arcade

Aladdin's Cave, a family-run jewellery store in Queens Arcade, has offered a carefully curated selection of antique, vintage and bespoke jewellery for more than 40 years.

Now mum-and-daughter team Roberta Swift, 67, and Jessica Spencer, 40, are bringing pieces from the past into the 21st Century.

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The family-run business has passed through three generations

Antique jewellery is having "a renaissance", Jessica said, with more people looking for sustainable and one-of-a-kind items - from engagement rings to birthday gifts.

“Customers can expect lots of items, to be bombarded with jewellery," Jessica told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"There are lots of cabinets and things to look at in different places - it’s not the most sophisticated shop, but it really is like an Aladdin’s Cave.

“I recently put out an Instagram post on the history of the shop and so many people said they come to our shop window every time they’re in Leeds, or they had special memories looking at it with their grandpa.

Aladdin's cave offers a carefully curated selection of antique, vintage and bespoke jewellery

“The focal point of the shop is the window full of items, which we meticulously take out and put back in every single day.”

The historical Queen's Arcade is a fitting location for a shop that has stood the test of time. It was opened by Jessica's grandparents before they sold it to her mum and late father and, although it wasn't her plan, Jessica fell into the family business.

Aladdin's Cave specialises in Victoria, Edwardian and Art Deco pieces, as well as modern silver items that are carefully hand-picked.

Jessica added: “I’ve been working with my mum for so long that we’re in sync with what we like. I couldn’t sell something we didn’t love ourselves, keeping that integrity is important to us.

“Antique stuff is the best; the way it’s crafted and the workmanship that goes into it is just so beautiful. And I love the big diamond rings - we currently have a two-and-a-half-carat ring which is absolutely gorgeous, and probably my favourite thing we have in.

"But we have something for every budget.”

Jessica, who is heavily pregnant and taking a break from behind-the-counter, has spent hours redesigning the shop's website and plans to launch an online blog with information on jewellery throughout the eras.

She regularly posts on the Aladdin's Cave Facebook and Instagram pages, sells items on Etsy and shows off products on image-sharing platform Pinterest.

That online presence got them through the pandemic, when Jessica and Roberta had to close down the shutters over several lockdowns.

“Antique jewellery is having a renaissance, especially with the drive around sustainability," Jessica added.

"A lot of younger people are getting into it and the market on Instagram and Etsy is now saturated - there’s a real demand for it. But people still like going into a shop and physically being able to see things, touch things and try them on.

“Independent businesses offer something different to the high street and people are becoming so much savvier about that now.

“The pandemic really lent itself to people supporting local businesses. And it's a good feeling when you do."

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