Muscat: As a child, she had dreamt of becoming a nurse, but destiny had something else in store for Rosemary Whelan. A summer job at an antique shop during her college days in Ireland changed the course of her life. She is now the owner of Richwood Antiques, a company dealing in sourcing and restoring 19th-century furniture.
Rosemary, who currently has a showroom in Muscat, is holding an exhibition at The Chedi to showcase several exquisite pieces that have been specifically sourced from Europe for the local market and transported to Oman.
She launched her showroom in Azaiba in 2011 with a hugely successful exhibition at the Bait Al Zubair Museum. "When I came here, I was surprised that nobody was selling these things.. And that was how the exhibition in Bait Al Zubair Museum happened," she stated.
According to Rosemary, Omanis have a "special interest" in polished mahogany wood, which is becoming scarce. "The demand is high among Omanis for polished mahogany, but it is becoming a very rare wood, and you cannot make furniture in mahogany anymore. The original pieces that were made in mahogany are unique; hence, we sell a lot of them here," she continued. Rosemary sells beautiful furniture constructed in exotic timbers of mahogany, rosewood, satinwood, and walnut that have been finely carved and decorated with intricate inlays and fine brass-work.
Rosemary, who single-handedly manages the business, recalled the good old days. "I am from Dublin in Ireland, and I entered this business at the very young age of 18. I wanted to become a nurse, and during my college days, I was offered a summer job in an antique shop to pass the time," she remarked. Her first sale was a beautiful Victorian rosewood armchair. "That changed the course of my life. The antique business has only done well for me, and I am enjoying every bit of it," she said with a smile.
With fake antique products making their way into the market, Rosemary, who is also an affiliated member of the CINOA—an international association for art and antique experts—has tips for identifying a genuine antique product. "The first thing I would say is to buy from a reputable source. It takes a long time to become a CINOA member. You need to have a lot of time and experience to become a member. If somebody buys an antique piece, and one year later, he finds that the product is not genuine, then he is entitled to a complete refund. I have been in this business for the last 20 years, and there has not been a single complaint from any of my customers," she stated.