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Saunders and Shepherd is a firm of manufacturing jewellers that were founded in London in 1869 by Cornelius Desormeaux Saunders Sr. and James Francis Hollings Shepherd at 23 Bartlett’s Buildings in Holborn Circus.
They expanded rapidly taking on numbers 24 and then 25 before also moving into Bartlett’s Passage as their success continued to grow. Initially they specialised in mourning jewellery made from Whitby jet but by 1880 they were advertising as “manufacturers in gold and standard silver of brooches, earrings, chains, swivels, lockets and necklets, pendants, solitaires, studs and charms.”
In 1889 they became the licensees for the American firm of Krementz and their patented one-piece collar stud and also invented the first self-closing bracelet. The following year C.D. Saunders passed away and his three sons became directors of the business which was converted into an LLC and henceforth known as Saunders and Shepherd Ltd. The firm had offices in India, Canada and Australia and tea chests full of jewels were regularly shipped for sale abroad. In 1909 a factory was opened in Birmingham and the company were producing increasing numbers of new designs and innovative pieces to keep abreast of changing fashions.
The Depression of the 1930s followed by WWII affected the business severely and they reduced it in size in order to survive. The Birmingham factory was closed and in 1941 the London premises was badly damaged by bombing and they lost most of their patterns. Manufacturing was very limited and they turned to trading in second hand jewellery to keep afloat. By the end of the war the company had less than 30 employees left but, undeterred, they kept going and gradually built themselves back up. In 1951 they exhibited at The Festival of Britain and as the country began to recover from the ravages of war so the desire and demand for jewellery increased and by the end of the 1950s they were able to move into new premises in St Cross Street in London. This served them well until 1980 when they bought, renovated and moved into number 1 Bleeding Heart Yard in Hatton Garden. The following year they were commissioned to make a gold bracelet for Lady Diana Spencer for her 20th birthday which she would go on to wear on her wedding day to Prince Charles. They focused increasingly on special commissions and added an in-house watchmaker to their team.
The firm has had various associations with other companies over the years such as Gay Freres, Eterna, Porsche Design and Fope. Today they are based in the Birmingham jewellery quarter where they continue to manufacture watch cases and jewellery in 9ct, 14ct and 18ct gold.