Taking a Turn Around the Dymocks Building

January 29, 2007 at 7:37 am (Uncategorized)

If you’ve never done this, I recommend you try it one day. The Dymocks Building is so cool, at least partly because it always feels like no one else knows about it. Of course, people do (they must – the lifts are always brutally crowded), but somehow the floors are always whisper quiet, and I’ve never passed anyone when I’ve taken the stairs. What is the Dymocks Building? Well, it’s something of an anachronism these days – it feels like time travel, visiting its various levels of specialised, eclectic shopfronts, organised in a manner known as ‘bazaar’ shopping. There are dedicated floors – like Levels 3 and 4 are for jewellery merchants, and Level 7 is for travel specialists and vaccinations, and Level 2 is just the start of bridal, which keeps cropping up no matter where you are in the building. It’s a trippy joint.

It has a fabulous, grand vestibule worth a stickybeak at any time, since the present building dates to 1932. That makes for some interesting period features, if you like that kind of thing (and I do): terrazzo tiles and marble floors, oak-framed shopfronts on every level, and the glazed granite terracotta used in the lobby, the staircase, and the building’s unassuming, Georgian exterior. The lady has style.

I went in today to get my engagement ring polished and the emerald tightened. It’s been tinkling in my ear, which doesn’t strike me as the most secure thing a gemstone can do from its setting. I instantly found what I needed on Level 4. Steven from R & R Jewellery Polishing sent me around the corner to Sergio the Gem Setter, who inspected my ring and sagely pronounced “It is possible.” Good. I left him with it, and returned later in the afternoon. Twenty bucks later, there’s no tinkling sound. He said “You take now to the polisher?” and I said “Immediately, yes.” This answer was met with a curt nod of approval, and I left Sergio behind.

Back through the security grille at R & R, I handed my engagement ring over to Steven and we had a brief, confusing conversation concerning the relative merits of brushing the metal side to side or forward to back. I think I looked and sounded appropriately clueless, although I did remember to say “I like it with a matte finish.” That’s the sole line I have in my jewellery repertoire. He had oil all over his hands and under his nails that reminded me of visiting my grandfather’s Burton St garage in Darlinghurst when I was a child. Granddad’s hands always looked just like that, darkened with work and oil and metal. It made me feel nostalgic, seeing those filthy, careworn hands, and that’s exactly what the Dymocks Building will do to you. It casts that kind of spell. I felt like I should have been wearing hat and gloves. He handed me a business card with his oil smudged fingerprint edging onto the company name. 428 George St. Acquaint yourself sometime.

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