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The Mishanto Story


 The Mishanto story is a gripping tale of survival, intrigue, escape, secrecy and ultimately, success. The company in its earliest form dates back officially to 1932 but the true story begins in 19th century Russia.

Our history can be traced back to the Emirate of Bukhara, a central Asian state that existed from 1785 to 1920. It is perhaps most famous for being an outpost on the famed 4,000 mile long ‘Silk Road’, an ancient network of trade and cultural exchange routes connecting China and India to Europe.

Beginning with the Han dynasty around 200BC, the Chinese silk that Europeans so coveted needed to be transported and the Silk Road was used by the Chinese, Greeks, Persians, Syrians, Romans, Armenians and Indians to get their goods to Europe. Many commodities were traded including spices, art, fabrics, dyes and of course jewels.

The section of the Silk Road pertinent to this story is in modern-day Uzbekistan, from the capital Tashkent via the beautiful city of Samarkand and onto the city of Bukhara, with its skyline of onion-like domes and mix of Persian, Uzbek and Jewish influences. This is from where the family of Misha Abram came and this is where the story of Mishanto begins.

For years, the Abram family were traders, as were most people in the area and they worked peacefully for generations until the mid-19th century when the Emirate lost a war with Imperial Russia. The Russians annexed much of the Emirate and in 1873 it became a Russian protectorate.

The Emir refused to loosen his grip on power and reformists asked the Russian Bolsheviks for help. The Red Army invaded in September 1920 and within a month, the Emirate was conquered and disestablished. The Abram family were considered to be anti-Communist ‘white’ (as opposed to Communist ‘red’) and after years of peaceful trading, their world was rocked to its core.

Many Whites were ‘taken’ by the Red Army to Siberian gulags (forced labour camps), homes were confiscated and businesses were closed. One of the men interned was Misha Abram.

During his internship where he saw many friends perish, he managed to keep hold of his overcoat. Not only did it provide a little warmth during the horrifically cold Siberian winters, it provided him a lifeline and, unbeknown at the time, a future.

Inside his coat pocket he had sewn two gemstones.

After years of incarceration, Misha received a new passport allowing his release and eventually, after five long years, he was reunited with his wife Jaffa and son Michael. Arriving in the the UK as a free man in a free country, he used the two gemstones he had kept hidden for years to forge a future for himself and his family.

Misha – along with many immigrants from Eastern Europe at that time – started working in the jewellery business. No money meant no premises and many of them used to trade from shop fronts and doorways to office buildings. Moreover, no money meant no safe deposit storage and to counter this issue, they came up with an ingenious plan. Misha would package up his wares and post them to himself to arrive the following morning. The parcels were insured by the post office and he would simply go and pick them up the next day and start work again.

From the early 1930s, Misha was a mainstay of the burgeoning London jewellery industry centred in Hatton Garden and the company, known then as M. Abram Ltd, was incorporated in 1961.

For the next three decades, the company flourished and in 1990, Misha’s grandson Tony joined the family business, closely followed by granddaughter Joanne.

The Value of Experience

As a growing business, they traded diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones as well as fine period and bespoke pieces and the family became more and more experienced in handling and dealing in diamonds, fine jewellery and stones.

In the late 90s with the trade side of the business established, Tony focused his attention on engagement rings, bespoke commissions and designing, developing and creating new ranges of diamond, platinum, gold and gemstone jewellery.

Fast forward to 2015 and we arrive at the genesis of the new Mishanto brand. The ranges of jewellery Tony developed were based ostensibly on the traditional values and ethos of the business and he wanted to ensure that all pieces were accessible to the widest audience.

Focusing on affordable luxury, the Mishanto brand was born and the true value of experience can be appreciated through the quality, balance, feel and finish of the Easy Elegance and Cutting Edge ranges of stunning semi-precious stones and silver of the highest distinction.

Given how inextricably linked the business is with the past, naming the brand was obvious. Honouring the memory of Misha and adding in the ‘modern’ element of Tony was how we came up with ‘Mishanto’ – a company steeped in history but always with an eye to the future.

To further demonstrate the heritage of the Mishanto brand, every piece contains a stone and is presented in a specially-designed pouch reminiscent of the pocket Misha carried those two stones throughout his internment in Siberia – a fitting homage to the man who risked his life to make a future in a new home for himself and those who came after