One of Britain’s most talented jewellers makes miniature masterpieces worth thousands of pounds despite being born — with no FINGERS.
Annette Gabbedey, 48, creates delicate rings and bracelets, glittering with precious diamonds and opals in her workshop.
But the expert goldsmith does not have any special tools to help her work without digits – she simply adapts conventional crafting devices to create dazzling ornaments.
Determined Annette – who insists she is not disabled – even says she could not imagine doing her job with fingers because they “must get in the way”.
She said: “Normally people can see that there is something a little bit different about me – I don’t have fingers which most people expect a goldsmith to have.
“Making jewellery is very tactile and something you do with your hands.
“I do find that people have that usual question of how do you manage and how do you manage to create jewellery let alone the day to day things.
“My answer to that really is that I tend to look at people with fingers and think well how can you manage with fingers because they must get in the way.
“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.
“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 get on really.”
Annette does not use any special tools to create her miniature masterpieces – she simply self-adapts tools to make the best of her movements.
She has a leather strap around her wrist which she can slide files under and a vice to hold pieces while she works.
She said: “I just find a different way of doing things really.
“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.
“It really is just fingers that I am missing.
“I have got the joints and the movements which means I have got the dexterity to be able to hold small items.”
Talented Annette says children often ask questions about her hands which she encourages – but does get annoyed when parents seem embarrassed.
“They need to learn at a young age that this is normal and this world is made up of all different types of people.
“People see my work first and then they see me and put the two together and think well she can make this so it’s not really a question.”
Married Annette, who trained amongst the bullion dealers of London’s prestigious Hatton Garden, has had her own workshop and shop in Frome, Somerset, for 24 years.
The most expensive piece she has ever made was a stunning ?25,000 18 carat yellow and white gold boulder opal and diamond necklace – which she made for herself to celebrate 21 years of trading.
Annette said she is blessed with a supportive family who have always encouraged her to “get out there and sort it out”.
She added: “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.
“But I don’t really see then as a challenge – it is just what they are.”