Michael Malone

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ALWAYS immaculate, a perfectionist in all he did, Michael Anthony Malone who has died aged 79 operated one of the most distinctive jewellery businesses in the North.

Having acquired run-down shop premises in Oakwood, Leeds, he engaged students of interior design at Leeds College of Art to devise its transformation, and the elegant, unique result of that collaboration exactly reflected the bespoke service and artistic flair which won this manufacturing jeweller a devoted clientele.

He saw customers by appointment only and trips to Antwerp to buy diamonds were a regular feature of his life, as were his weekly visits by car – he loved his blue Triumph Stag – to Birmingham’s jewellery quarter to commission pieces from that city’s renowned silver smiths.

There was no let up because his breaks from business were filled with other interests, music being the chief of them. Always one for a new challenge, when he was 40 he took up skiing, and those who knew him and the vigour with which he attacked every task he undertook were not in the least surprised at the competence he quickly achieved.

When he was 50, he hiked and climbed in the French Alps and completed the demanding Haute Route which takes in Mont Blanc. He did it for charity, raising several thousands of pounds for St Michael’s Hospice.

When he was 60 he passed his motorbike test – just for the challenge. He supported the Royal Varity Club of Great Britain by making trophies and badges free of charge.

Although he brought unswerving commitment to his jewellery business, and in partnership with his wife created one with few parallels, he sometimes gave the impression to friends that he would rather have been a full-time musician.

Destiny and family expectation played a part in the choice he made. His father was a Leeds jeweller, and from him he learnt the business and the basic skills which would underpin his own career.

He was born in Leeds and his mother, Kathleen, later gave birth to a daughter, Mary. Besides being a jeweller, their father, Frank, was for 30 years organist and choir master at St Anne’s Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Mr Malone attended St Michael’s College in the city until his remarkable singing voice earned him a place at Westminster Cathedral School as a chorister scholar.

He learned the clarinet, and music would play a significant part in the rest of his life.

Called up for National Service in 1952, he served at Catterick where he played in the Regimental Band of the Royal Signals and in The Big Dance Band which accompanied his fellow national serviceman at Catterick, Vince Hill.

Back in Leeds he joined the YMCA and there met Shirley Ford, whom he married in 1956.

He played jazz with other musicians, their weekend performances across the city and Yorkshire winning an enthusiastic following. He played clarinet with the same flair and meticulous attention to detail as was evident in the business he ran, but he more obviously enjoyed the satisfaction it gave him.

Later he joined the Fire Brigade Band and that too gave him immense pleasure.

He retired from his business in 2004 and moved to Harrogate to be closer to his elder daughter, Mandy.

Mr Malone is survived by his wife Shirley, their daughters Mandy and Sally, four grandchildren and his sister Mary.