Meet Payal Maheshwari of Portobello in Camberwell
Article posted: December 13, 2016
A boutique jewellery shop in Camberwell is giving people access to beautifully designed, quality accessories at competitive prices.
Portobello, located in the Camberwell Arcade, has been part of the shopping precinct for more than 42 years and is one of the oldest shops in Camberwell.
Founder Jim (James Rea) was an artist and it is apparent to see his antique, vintage and art deco influences throughout the brand and the store.
Payal and Sundeep Maheshwari became owners of Portobello four years ago, and bring a strong background in sourcing product and jewellery manufacturing to the business.
While it’s important for them to preserve what Portobello has become renowned for – the vintage, antique and collectible items – the pair have also introduced some contemporary elements to the store’s collection, such as customisable jewellery.
The in-store experience also retains the traditional elements of an antique jewellery shop to keep that old world charm – receipts are still handwritten and there is no till at the front desk.
A brand with broad appeal
Portobello offers an extensive range of products. Expect to find everything from classic pearls to art deco and antique items, to more contemporary styles for the younger age groups.
With a customer base that spans three generations, Portobello caters to grandmothers who began shopping at the store many years ago and have since introduced the brand to their daughters and granddaughters.
While catering to a broad customer base can sometimes be challenging, it is mostly fun, Payal said.
“We’ll have an 80-year-old woman walk in to get a classic pearl necklace at the same time as a 15-year-old girl who wants an infinity bracelet,” she said.
“We love that about our store. Our customers have the confidence to come in here and find something they like, whether it’s for a gift or something for themselves.”
Customers are also able to view almost any piece of jewellery in its physical form before making a purchase, Payal said.
“You can actually see a silver piece physically before you order it. And for any orders for gold, we can make up the piece in silver first because we can manufacture it and show it to the customer before they buy it,” she said.
Sourcing power makes for competitive prices
Given their strong relationships with international suppliers and their own manufacturing plant based in India, Portobello is in a unique position to offer customers exquisite jewellery at competitive prices.
The owners regularly travel abroad to meet with suppliers and buy materials directly from the source, meaning the jewellery travels through fewer hands before reaching the store. This keeps costs down and the savings are passed on to the customer.
The materials are sourced from diverse locations around the world including Thailand, Mexico, Turkey, Poland and Indonesia.
“We buy directly from the pearl growers and the stone mines,” Payal said.
Portobello is very hands-on in sourcing their own product. When the striking purple gemstone charoite was becoming difficult to source, Portobello’s owners travelled to the stone suppliers to obtain the rough stone. They then cut and polished the stone themselves, and set them in sterling silver to make unique pieces of jewellery.
“We do it all from scratch and everything is handcrafted,” Payal said.
The personal touch
Customer service is key at Portobello, and they pride themselves on providing quality service to customers.
The store also offers repair and alteration services, thanks to their in-house repair and customisation services.
Customers can bring in any of their own jewellery to be repaired, with knotting of pearls, changing clasps and replacing earring hooks among common repairs.
“A lot of people don’t go to big jewellers and rather come to us for repairs. We can do a lot of basic repairs in-house, on the spot so you don’t have to leave your piece behind and collect it later,” Payal said.
Portobello’s customisable range allows people to put their own personal touch on pieces of jewellery, with the ability to choose their favourite elements or even design their own items.
“You can basically have a ring made to your size, in the metal of your choice and with the gemstone you like. You can truly make it your own,” Payal said.
“People are even coming in with images of their own designs and we can create those designs for them.”