Keeping the spark of British jewellery manufacturing alive
We are passionate about our special craft and its wonderful British heritage.
All our manufacturing is proudly undertaken in the UK. From designing, to casting into precious metal, hand-setting each and every diamond/coloured stone, and finally polishing your sparkling jewellery piece. Simply put, we are a talented bunch, so there is no need for us to send any of the creative process abroad, unlike many high-street jewellery shops. It’s from us to you.
We love our unique jewellery service and are dedication to providing exquisite, affordable and ethical jewellery for you. All of which is inspired and founded on a rich heritage of British jewellery and craftsmanship.
We’ve had quite a history of jewellery here in the UK, with the Romans making the most of our gold resources from as early as 70 AD! Over the centuries, jewellery has been used as much for symbolism and ritual, as it has for decoration. The Victoria and Albert Museum (London) has a notable jewellery collection that tells “the story of jewellery in Europe” with over 3,000 jewels! But just in case you don’t get the opportunity for a visit there, here’s a brief overview of British jewellery heritage…
13th and 14th century
“Status” was important. So, jewellery was often used as a means of showcasing wealth. The rich wore jewellery crafted from precious metals (gold and silver) and precious, polished gemstones. For those of lesser wealth, pewter, copper and enamel (crushed, coloured class) were all cleverly utilised. Back then, gemstones were valued on size and vividness of colour, as gem/diamond cutting wasn’t hugely prevalent. So, dedicated colour was extensively used within jewellery to symbolise religious and magical beliefs.
As this century drew to a close, so came the Renaissance era. Religion was become more and more integral and coloured stones continued to be dominant and symbolic. Specialised craftsmanship skills such as gem-engraving and stone-cutting appeared, increasing the overall sparkle of jewellery.
Fashion all went a bit calmer with pastel tones and the use of softer colours of gemstones such as pearls. Gemstones from overseas were also becoming more available to the jewellery trade.
Faceted stones (and particularly diamonds!) really made their move. Large diamonds were used for brooches whilst smaller stones were actually used within clothing. Gold and silver-hilted swords also came into fashion. In fact, many jewellers (rather than swordsmiths) were crafting these as they were often decoratively set with gemstones and enamel for ceremonial purposes.
Late 19th century
During this Victorian era, fashion jewellery became more naturalistic with diamond encrusted flower and fruit designs. Classical styles were also on the scene following new archaeological discoveries, and ancient gold techniques were being restored by jewellery craftsmen. With the death of Prince Albert in 1861, the UK followed their Queen in a state of mourning wearing black-stoned jewellery. This then meant an increase in the mining of specialised stones such as Yorkshire’s Whitby Jet.
Platinum also arrived in the UK during the 19th century. This new metal, alongside the Industrial Revolution also meant “mass production” with electric gold plating machines and the production of imitation stones. Thus, houses with workshops and small factories began to spring up in trading towns.
Although this affordable jewellery enabled a larger consumer market, it also gave rise to the rebellious Arts & Craft Movement. This movement promoted bespoke design and handmade jewellery created by skilled craftsmen. Highly polished (cabochon) gemstones were also favoured over faceted stones, and curving/flowing designs proved skill over repetitive production.
Art Nouveau jewellery then bridged the gap between the 19th and 20th century, providing bold, organic designs. Materials such as horn, enamel and glass, were also being explored more, chosen over generic precious metals and stones.
Art Deco jewellery brought jewellery design paralleling, angular patterns and flowing motifs. Despite the economic depressions of war, sparkling, stylish and inventive jewellery was still in its full glory. Influenced by the rising fashion industries in Europe and American, demand was ever-growing too. Larger factories with showrooms started to appear and independent jewellers traded directly with the public.
Indeed, Yorkshire was home to prominent jewellery manufacturing workshops with local employees passing on their craftsmanship skills from one generation to the next. Our founders of Jeweller’s Loupe grounded their jewellery careers in one of these workshops (before creating their own “rebellious bespoke movement”.)
Late 20th/early 21st century.
Like many UK manufacturing industries / business, overseas opportunities proved to be more cost-effective for manufacturers, with both material and labour costs being much lower. The consumer market grew in demand for cheaper products. And so consequently, many companies opted to move their creative processes abroad. This meant that the UK manufacturing industry went into decline.
However (and hoorah!)
We are slowly seeing a change again. Both consumers and manufacturers are returning to an increased focus on quality over cost. Consumers and manufacturers are interested in the ethical repercussions of how and where their products are made. And consumers and manufacturers are noticing how they can help the UK economy by “buying British”, rather than exporting jobs and industry abroad.
And that’s where we come in. Shop our fabulous collection online now.