Lila's, East Dulwich: a Hidden Gem

On a charming corner of East Dulwich, find conversation-starting jewellery and storied antique gemstones

Leafy, lovely Dulwich is renowned for its abundance of independent retailers and restaurants, in addition to a thriving weekend market. Located in prime position on Lordship Lane is Lila’s, a trove of pre-loved antique and contemporary jewellery, twinkling with personality.

The boutique was founded by local resident Cata Rosca in 2014 and is so-called after her daughter. The Romanian-born gemmologist moved to London in 2012 and previously operated a successful fashion jewellery model with her husband in Europe. “When we came to the UK, I was so impressed by the dynamic character of the jewellery market. Pieces with history and provenance are quite a thing here.”

Eschewing the Aladdin’s cave aesthetic often associated with purveyors of pre-loved stones, Lila’s is airy, spacious and elegant. The gallery-style space is designed by Four-by-Two, also behind Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh, and is outfitted with recycled materials, reflecting Rosca’s commitment to sustainability and ethical luxury. Display cabinets are crafted from reused railway sleepers, while vintage factory lamps hang overhead. A diamond solitaire, drawn by Rosca's first designer, is upscaled and digitally printed on one wall. 

Victorian Sentimental Locket, £590; Art Deco Diamond and Sapphire Gemstone Platinum Ring £1760

Lila’s is renowned for reviving and remodelling sentimental pieces for customers, from a key fob transformed into a cuff by a man to remember his late mother, to a pair of cufflinks made into matching pendants for two sisters. Thus, an heirloom is given a contemporary, fresh lease of life, while maintaining its original charm and character. “A woman came to us with a sapphire that her grandfather had smuggled from Sri Lanka in his sock,” recalls Rosca. “Another customer recently brought in an opal ring, found in his back garden.”

Catering to modern and minimalist tastes alike, Lila’s eclectic offering spans Edwardian brooches and Victorian lockets to elegant Art Deco pieces, retro chains and contemporary Italian white gold diamond rings. Antique pieces are curated alongside local designers and contemporary creations, predominantly crafted from Fairtrade gold. 

In-house designs include coiling snakes with glittering gemstone eyes and the rebellious ‘Anti-Ring’, crowned by an upside-down diamond, thus revealing the spiked, rarely seen underside of the stone. 

Lila's Diamond Anti-Ring, £1,350.00; Becky Dockree Moonstone Little People ring, £240.00

“Our pieces are all unusual, with a focus on gemstones. I personally love older pieces and slightly wonky designs with hand-cut stones," continues Rosca. "I really appreciate the workmanship, like enamelling and hand-engraving, which you rarely see nowadays.”

"I would say emeralds an opals are very popular right now, especially unusual minty green tones and teal-blue sapphires. And a solitaire diamond will always be in fashion.”

117 Lordship Lane, Dulwich, London SE22 8HU, lilasjewels.co.uk