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Drayson, Cecil

Founded 1936

The firm of Cecil Drayson Ltd was founded in London in 1936 by Keith Cecil Drayson, however the family’s involvement in the trade can be traced back to at least the beginning of the 20th Century.

Various reports and articles dating from 1907 onwards list Drayson as purchasers of significant quantities of important antique jewellery including tiaras, necklaces, pendants and bracelets from top London auction houses such a Christie’s (then Christie, Manson & Wood) and Phillips (then Philips, Son & Neale).  One such item was the Hope Spinel which Drayson bought in 1917 at ‘The Sale of The Hope Heirlooms’ for £1060. Not only were the family dealing in antique jewellery but Keith’s uncle was the well regarded diamond and precious stone dealer Alfred Drayson who was also the chairman of the London Chamber of Commerce’s diamond and pearl department.  

So when Keith opened Cecil Drayson Ltd he had both knowledge and experience that helped him quickly gain a reputation for elegant and high quality jewels that were well designed and beautifully made.  The Art Deco aesthetic was at the height of its popularity during the 1930’s and this style had a great influence on the company’s designs.  Stylish double clips, fashionable wide strap bracelets and fabulous cocktail rings were all expertly set with rubies, sapphires and emeralds complemented by diamonds in round, square and baguette cuts.  Many of the jewels had a sculptural quality to them such as the ring which contrasts a geometric baguette-cut diamond section with a three dimensional looped scroll set with round brilliants that curls over the top.  There was keen attention to detail too as evidenced by finishes touches like tiny ruby cabochon terminals and the perfect colour matching of beautifully cut calibré stones.  A number of different workshops were used to create the jewellery one of which was G. Music & Sons who are still situated in London’s manufacturing jewellery centre, Hatton Garden.

In addition to jewels they also made accessories for the modern woman such as gold cigarette cases and compacts which were particularly popular during the 1940’s and 50’s. The later jewellery became more abstract in style using gems such as aquamarines mixed with rubies and diamonds as well as pieces that were whimsical in nature like the pair of pavé-set diamond ear clips modelled as little hats complete with sapphire ribbons.  Yellow gold was rarely used as platinum was favoured for its strength, colour and aesthetic appearance for diamond set jewels. 

By the 1960’s the company had moved to 1 Burlington Gardens from their previous address at 179 New Bond Street. After Keith passed away in 1963 the company was sold to the jewellers S.J. Rood who were in turn bought by Hancocks in 1998. Drayson jewels don’t come onto the market very often but when they do, they always spark interest from discerning collectors as the stylish designs and high quality of the jewellery make them very desirable pieces.