I EDGE gingerly into the shop, an Aladdin’s Cave of antique clocks, vases, figurines, portraits and jewellery glinting from black velvet cases.
Two showpiece antique desks line one wall, each manned by an expert.
Charismatic boss Anthony Barnes is holding court at the largest desk at the back. You can hear his laugh from the doorway.
It is a weekday morning but the shop is full-to-bursting with people happy to queue and enjoy the show while Anthony and his two chips off the old block, sons Thomas and Harrison (plus employee Peter), are hard at work.
Close your eyes and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a bar.
There is laughter and joviality as customers peruse vintage Rolex watches and offer up their own valuable items for sale.
The three musketeers – Anthony, 66, Thomas, 24 and Harrison, 22 – look dapper in blue shirts, chinos and loafers, chatting to customers like old friends.
And many of them are: take British expat Michael Weeks, who is buying his wife Barbie a ring to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
They’ve shopped here for years. Not just for the diamond deals Anthony offers but for the friendly welcome. It’s that kind of place.
The expertise is also 22 carat. Born into the antiques trade and raised in Petticoat Lane in London’s East End, Anthony learnt everything he knows from his family and later honed it in The Lanes of Brighton, the place for antiques, gold and precious gems.
His sons also later spent time in Brighton, both studying business and management at the university. They later gained qualifications in diamond grading and valuing coloured gemstones and studied history of art via specialist auctioneers Bonham’s.
Like father like sons, it is clear to see that both brothers are a hit with the customers.
While Anthony specialises in all-round antiques and paintings (‘It’s dad’s baby, he likes to be in control,’ the boys tell me), pony-tailed Harrison is making a name for himself in the watch department while Thomas (short crop) is especially good with rocks of the valuable variety.
He is also the company’s ‘star seller’.
The three men all live separately which explains why they get on so famously at work.
Both sons were schooled locally at the English International College in Elviria, which has left them with ‘friends all over the world’.
And despite having the opportunity to set up a life in the UK after their studies, they were keen to come home to Spain and get stuck in at their father’s booming business.
“You can run a family business and the kids don’t want to know,” Anthony tells me.
“But the business is in their blood and sometimes you can’t escape that… they are doing very well here and I want to teach them an eye for quality.”
“Anyway the secret of this shop is not to sell things to people but to have fun,” he adds, jovially.
Despite the office banter, it is clear that Harrison and Thomas respect their father and believe in the business.
“It is amazing to be able to buy and sell these interesting objects, and although it’s a huge responsibility it is also an amazing experience,” says Harrison.
“It’s satisfying to be constantly learning.”
Thomas, echoes his brother’s views.
“I have been here for three years and I am still learning a huge amount.
“Dad let us make our own mistakes and you learn fast, but the real strong point here is customer service.”
He continues: “We know peoples’ names, their kids’ names, it goes way past business. That’s part of the enjoyment of being here.”
They clearly have a winning formula, which Thomas sums up as ‘we buy at the right price, we sell at the right price and everybody’s happy’. Simple!
“And in the afternoon we do house calls, travelling around and doing free evaluations always putting the customers first,” he adds.
Together with 62-year-old Brit Peter they make a diamond team.
“I have been doing jewellery all my life,” Peter tells me.
He continues: “The reason people love this shop is because we’re fair, not greedy. You really can get fantastic deals here.
“Once people come here they never want to go anywhere else.”
And along with the Barnes bonhomie and eloquent expertise, you can usually find a parking spot right outside their emporium in Avenida Ramon y Cajal, making it hassle-free for taking away your art, jewellery and precious purchases.
Visit the website at www.anthonys-diamonds.com or call 952 588 795
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