Published on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:00
Imagine having no fingers and trying to complete the simplest task like eating a hamburger. You can't? Well shame on you, you just lack the determination and willpower because this woman who was born without fingers is able to craft incredibly intricate ornaments.
When there's a will, there's always a way. Annette Gabbedey never let a setback she had since birth stop her from doing what she loves most; creating beautiful pieces of jewelry. The 48-year-old creates delicate rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces inset with diamonds, opals and other precious stones in her workshop in Frome, Somerset despite having no fingers.
More remarkably, this expert jeweler uses no special tools to help her work and says that she cannot fathom how people with fingers are able to craft jewelry.
“I'm quite normal and not disabled at all. But I do appreciate that people are fascinated by me being able to create something,” Gadbbedey said. “Making jewellery is very tactile, and something you do with your hands, and people ask how I manage to create jewellery, let alone the day to day things.”
“My answer to that is: 'How do you manage with fingers?', because they must get in the way,” she added.
Gadbbedey's family gave her the encouragement to pursue what she loves. Her family told her to “get out there and sort it out”, and she decided to study jewelry-making at school and college before training amongst the best jewelry experts of London's Hatton Garden.
She moved to Somerset about 24 years ago and is now regarded as one of Britain's finest craftsmen and opal specialists.
“It is just your own perception of how you look at yourself, and for me I was born like it, sod I have never known anything different,” she simply put.
The goldsmith runs her own studio and boutique in Frome's picturesque Catherine Hill, and she also has her own website here
She wears a leather wrist strap under which she slides files is she needs them and uses a vice to hold pieces while she works on her dazzling creations.
“I just find a different way of doing things. I have sensitivity all the way through my hands - I can feel everything I am touching and I have got quite a lot of movements in my hands,” Gadbbedey said. “It really is just fingers that 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.”
Gadbbedey is not reticent to answer questions about her lack of fingers at all, and she said that she is happy to entertain inquisitive children.
“They need to learn at a young age that this is normal, and this world is made up of all different types of people,” she states matter-of-factly.
“'People see my work first, and then they see me and think "Well, she can make this", so it's not really a question.”
The most expensive piece she has ever created costs £25,000 (S$53,068) in materials. It is an 18 carat yellow and white gold boulder opal and diamond necklace, which she made as a present for herself to celebrate 21 years of trading.
“Lots of people have challenges of different types and mine, I suppose, is my hands. But I don't really see then as a challenge - it is just how they are,” she said modestly.
Check out the video below to see how this extraordinary woman with an extraordinary talent creates her bespoke jewelry.
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