Bailey, Banks & Biddle started life as Bailey & Kitchen when Joseph Trowbridge Bailey and Andrew B. Kitchen formed a partnership and opened their store at 136 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia in September 1832.
They were manufacturing and retail jewellers and silversmiths but also sold a wide range of luxury goods such as Sevres porcelain and bronzes as well as stationary. In 1846 the name was changed to Bailey & Company and it remained so until 1878 when J. T. Bailey’s son, Joseph Bailey II (who had joined his father’s business in 1851) formed a new partnership with George Banks and Samuel Biddle thereby creating the name that the company still retains today.
By the late 19th Century the firm was flourishing and alongside their retail jewellery business, they also had a highly successful insignia department which designed and manufactured medals, ribbons and honour awards for the United States government as well as military and naval academies. They redesigned the Great Seal of the United States in 1904 (which is still in use today) produced the Medal of Honour (America’s highest military award) and also introduced the first Pilot Wings in 1917.
They produced and sold a wide range of jewellery from simple gold lockets to diamond set necklaces and tiaras. They kept abreast of changing fashions with delicate Edwardian and Belle Époque style jewels giving way to the bolder more geometric pendants and bracelets of the Art Deco period which segued into yellow gold and multi-gem set Retro styles. They were renowned for the quality of their craftsmanship and use of beautiful gems including colourful black opals, pale watery aquamarines and rich vibrant rubies, all embellished with fine quality diamonds. The firm became part of the Zale Corporation in 1962 and expanded widely across the States. It changed hands again in 2007 when it was bought by Finlay Enterprises who filed for bankruptcy just two years later. The name and several locations were subsequently acquired by the private equity group Twin Field and the brand was relaunched in 2010 specialising in diamond bridal jewellery and watches alongside retailing a selection of other designer jewellery.