MASKED robbers spent four minutes smashing through the front window of a jewellers in broad daylight.

Three men wearing balaclavas and gardening gloves used a sledgehammer to raid Keating Jewellers in busy Wanstead High Street on Monday at 10.30am.

Co-owner Elaine Keating bravely fought to gather jewellery from the display as she was showered with glass.

But the robbers made off with trays of rings worth thousands of pounds, narrowly missing a mother and her two children as they mounted the pavement as they drove off.

Mrs Keating was behind the counter when she saw an old Nissan car pull up before a man started hammering at the window.

The 53-year-old rushed over and started taking the jewellery from the windows, suffering cuts to her hands as the sledgehammer sprayed glass inside the store.

She covered her face with the curtain to protect herself while the robbers took around four minutes to break through the plate glass.

“I didn’t see the car properly because I was focusing on saving our goods,” she said.

“I saw a hand come and reach out to grab the rings, I tried to grab it but he wriggled free.”

Her husband David tried to fend of the armed robbers with a metal pole, but eventually retreated to protect his wife.

The 59-year-old said: “I was more outraged than anything else,”

“We worked so long and hard to build that collection but they have made off with a good portion of it.”

He added that the police took a long time to arrive at the scene so no-one was able to prevent the thieves from getting away.

Raiders also smashed through the window of a jewellery shop in George Lane, South Woodford, on February 19.

No arrests have been made.