The history of the House of Garrard is long and prestigious. Garrard has held a Royal Warrant to the British Royal family for 166 years. They were first appointed the privilege by Queen Victoria in 1843. As the first official Crown Jewellers, Garrard has been the exemplar of high quality British jewellery, supplying and maintaining the Crown jewels and exceptional royal commissions for over two centuries.
Jewellery Maker Profile: House of Garrard
The Cullinan Diamond
What is today known as the House of Garrard, began life in 1722 with the skilled silversmith, George Wickes (1698-1761). Having established a reputation for his rococo style silverwear, Wickes gained the attention of Frederick, Prince of Wales. Wickes’ apprentices bought the business upon his retirement in 1760. By 1802 Robert Garrard became the sole owner. His sons, Robert, James and Sebastian continued to run the firm under the name R., J. & S. Garrard. This name was simplified to Garrard & Co. in 1909. In 1911 Garrard establishing their flagship store on Albemarle Street, in London’s illustrious Mayfair. In the same year the firm took on another important royal commission for the Delhi Durbar. For the occasion Garrard created a crown with 6,170 cut diamonds as well as several colours gems, for George V and a mighty diamond and emerald necklace for Queen Mary. The necklace contained the seventh stone (out of nine) cut from the monumental Cullinan diamond.
A year before, in 1910, Garrard was tasked with resetting the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross. The sceptre had been used in every British coronation since 1661. In the centre, Garrard placed the Cullinan I (the Star of Africa), the largest clear cut diamond in the world. The record-breaking stone could be taken out and ingeniously placed in a brooch with the Cullinan II.
Garrard had long been at the forefront of innovative settings and stylish designs in British jewellery. In the 1851 Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park, they exhibited over 100 pieces.
Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring
After four generations of Garrard family members running the company, Sebastian Henry Garrard (great-grandson to Robert Garrard senior) died in 1946. In 1952 Garrard amalgamated with The Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company and moved to Regents Street. In year 1998 bought another merger and move: Garrard was joined by Asprey and moved to New Bond Street until 2002 when they moved back to their original Albemarle premises they occupied in 1911.
2006 marked the end of the Asprey’s partnership, and a year later the Royal Warrant with the Crown also came to an end. However, the house’s royal connection continues with the Prince of Wales. In 1981 Prince Charles commissioned his engagement ring from Garrard. Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire cluster engagement ring has become a signature of the house. Maintaining the house’s past, the engagement ring was modelled on a cluster brooch given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria on their wedding day. In 2010, Prince William gave his mother’s ring to his bride, Catherine Middleton.
Since 2012, Sara Prentice has led the House’s designs as Creative Director. Prentice works to maintain Garrard’s status as a touchstone for luxury.
The House of Garrard’s contemporary collections are steeped in British history: from the Tudor Rose collection, to the Regal Cascade, Enchanted Palace and Princess Tiaras. Each of these modern collections draws on the opulence and iconography of court pomp and pageantry. Key motifs used by the House include bows, hearts, wings and feather plumes. Aigrettes were hugely popular in the 1920s. During this period the influence of Indian imperial jewellery flooded the British jewellery industry.
All of Garrard’s designs are executed with the highest quality craftsmanship and include the finest quality stones. The close relationship with the monarchy has led Garrard to handle the largest stones in the world. Garrard was charged with re-cutting the Koh-i-noor in 1852 into a 105.6 carat oval with 66 facets and later setting the enormous stone into the Crown of Queen Alexandra for the coronation of her husband in 1902.
They continue to have a close connection with the royal family. In 2018, Garrard unveiled a 118.88 carat Burmese Sapphire set in their signature cluster setting in homage to the female royals that have worn the design. Recently Prince Harry commissioned the bronze, silver and gold medals for the winners of the Invictus Games.