For a person born without fingers, 48-year-old Annette Gabbedey has the most unusual job – she is one of Britain’s most talented jewelry designers and an expert goldsmith. It is surprising that she doesn’t even use special tools to help her work around her condition. Instead, she adapts conventional crafting devices to make the most dazzling and intricate ornaments.
Because she has never had fingers, Annette says that she doesn’t feel like anything is missing. In fact she prefers it this way, insisting that she is not disabled. “I tend to look at people with fingers and think well how can you manage with fingers because they must get in the way,” she said. “It is just your own perception of how you look at yourself and for me I was born like it and I have never known anything different.”
Annette ties a leather strap around her wrist to hold her files. She also uses a vice to keep the pieces in place as she works. Although she has no fingers, her wrist joints are in perfect condition, giving her the dexterity to hold small items.
“Making jewelry is very tactile and something you do with your hands. It is really just the fingers that I am missing,” she said. “I have sensitivity all the way through my hands and I can feel everything I am touching and I have got quite a lot of movements in my hands.”
People are often surprised by Annette’s situation. “I don’t have fingers which most people expect a goldsmith to have. I do find that people have that usual question of how do you manage to create jewelry, let alone day to day things,” she said. “I’m quite normal and not disabled at all but I do appreciate that people are fascinated by me being able to create something and just got on really.”
She particularly welcomes the curiosity of little children, but finds it annoying when the parents seem embarrassed. “They need to learn at this young age that this is normal and this world is made up of all different types of people.”
Annette learned to work with precious metals at London’s prestigious retail jewelry store, Hatton Garden. She has been running her own store and workshop for the past 24 years in Frome, a small town in northeast Somerset, England. One of her most expensive pieces is worth £25,000 (US $42,000). The necklace is made of 18 carat yellow and white gold and set with boulder opals and diamonds. She made it for herself after completing 21 years in the business.
Annette is married; her family is very supportive of her, encouraging her to ‘get out there and sort it out’. “That’s what people do when they’ve got a challenge. Lots of people have challenges of different types and mine I suppose is my hands,” she said.
“But I don’t really see them as a challenge – this is just what they are.”
Photos & Source: SWNS.com