Michael James founded The Silver Fund in London two decades ago. Even as a child he was fascinated by the lustrous metal and would accompany his mother frequently to antique shops near their home in England, a place that once belonged to movie mogul J. Arthur Rank. “My parents had exquisite taste and I was always surrounded by beautiful things,” he says.
In late-1980s London, James began in the silver galleries on Bond Street where he worked among the world’s elite jewelers of gold and silver. An expansion to America soon followed with successful retail stores in New York and San Francisco. “The pieces in my shops have come from all four corners of the earth, individually sourced and hand-picked,” James says.
The recent grand opening of his 2,500-square-foot Worth Avenue gallery has Islanders abuzz. Having cultivated a “unique assortment of objects” for 30 years, this newest flagship store showcases 20th-century silver from such iconic names as Georg Jensen, Cartier, and Tiffany & Co., along with furnishings, mirrors and vintage Murano glass. “We have one of the best collections of 20th-century silver and art objects in the world — it’s simply a fact,” James says. For more information, call 561/629-5153 or visit www.thesilverfund.com.
Q: When did you first realize you had a love for collecting silver?
A: I’ve always had a fascination with the material and began collecting silver coins as a child. When I turned 18, I decided not to attend a university and instead, embarked on a career of buying and selling silver.
Q: Do you remember the first piece that captured your interest?
A: It was at my grandmother’s home. She had an amazing letter knife by Georg Jensen. Later, after I had been trading traditional Georgian silver for eight to none months, I was offered a Georg Jensen tea set. It was costly, but it was so fantastic and so revolutionary that I just had to have it. This was the defining moment that set me on the path to specialize in 20th-century silver, objects and design.
Q: How did you start your business?
A: It was the early 1980s. I started off in small markets in areas of South London that were quite edgy. It was there I met the most incredible cast of characters. Some came straight out of a Dickens novel and others from the London underworld. It was such an amazing experience for a young man who was educated with five members of the royal family and who had just come from a top English boarding school in Scotland.
Q: Why Palm Beach for your new location?
A: I’ve always loved Palm Beach and we’ve been doing various shows in the area for 17 years. I personally feel that the Island is one of the most civilized places in the United States. It’s filled with people that appreciate living with wonderful objects and fantastic interiors.