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Monty Don's surprising career before TV fame and link to Princess Diana revealed

Monty is adored for his presenting on Gardeners' World

monty don
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
26 May 2023
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Monty Don is adored for his work on BBC's Gardeners' World, but did you know that the TV presenter had a very different career before he became a household name on the horticultural programme?

Prior to the 67-year-old's impressive career in broadcasting, Monty owned a jewellery business with his wife, Sarah, which was located at the heart of London.

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Throughout the 1980s, Monty and Sarah ran the business, named Monty Don Jewellery, which welcomed some very high-profile customers. The jewellery store, in Beauchamp Place, SW1, designed and made its own creations which were predominantly costume jewellery pieces. 

The venture was so successful that they sold to many countries around the world and had the seal of approval from prestigious fashion houses at Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Liberty. British Vogue also featured them in their magazine.

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Monty Don stands in his garden at Longmeadow© BBC
Monty Don is known for his role on Gardeners' World

There was even a royal connection as Diana, Princess of Wales, was said to be a customer at Monty Don Jewellery along with other big stars of the era including Boy George and Michael Jackson.

In 2005, Monty opened up about the venture. Writing in the Independent, he said: "Costume jewellery has its value entirely from its design and appearance, not from the cost of its materials. Our jewellery is still in the V&A.

"When we were flying, we were really flying. At our best, we were the best in the world at what we did. But we were never quite as successful as our publicity convinced other people - and ourselves - that we were. We were hopelessly under-capitalised and borrowing constantly."

Monty Don © Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
Monty Don has hosted Gardeners' World since 2003

In 1987, the Wall Street crash sadly had a negative effect on the business – with the USA being their biggest market – and it did not stand the test of time and the company was close to complete bankruptcy.

The decline of the jewellery venture prompted Monty to embark in a career in broadcasting, writing and, eventually, horticulture. And it wasn't long after the collapse of Monty Don Jewellery that he ended up working in TV.

In 1989, Monty landed his role weekly TV job on This Morning as a guest presenter for a gardening segment. His This Morning appearances led to other TV work, and he was soon employed by the BBC to host the shows, Holiday and Tomorrow's World.

Monty Don and Sarah Don at National Portrait Gallery book signings in 2016© Nick Harvey/Shutterstock
Monty Don and Sarah previously owned a costume jewellery business

In November 1999, he landed a Channel 4 gig hosting the gardening series Fork to Fork, in which he and his wife Sarah presented segments on growing and cooking organic vegetables.

Then, in 2002, Monty took over from Alan Titchmarsh as the lead presenter of Gardeners' World and he's never looked back. 

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