Often known as the ‘David Webb of London’, Kutchinsky led the way out of post-war austerity in London’s jewellery industry. Hirsh Kutchinsky emigrated with his family from Poland to London in 1893. He opened a jewellery workshop on Commercial Road in the East End. Hirsh was not new to the jewellery industry. In Poland his family had been court jewellers to Ludwig of Bavaria. At Commercial Road Kutchinsky established a reputation for manufacturing fine platinum pieces.
Jewellery Maker Profile: Kutchinsky
In 1930 Hirsh’s son Morris introduced his two young sons to the workshop. Solomon and Joseph were in their teens but learnt every aspect of the business, Joseph at only 14 was a skilled diamond cutter and grew into a natural salesman. This technical training would prove useful during the war and post-war period when materials, such as platinum, were rationed and gold was in short supply.
By 1958 Joseph made the bold move to relocate and rebrand the family firm from the East End of London to the more prestigious West End. Joseph opened a shop on the Brompton Road, in the heart of Knightsbridge. It was also close to the iconic British Department Store, Harrods.
Joseph’s two son’s Roger (b. 1945) and Paul (b. 1950) became a fourth generation of Kutchinsky men to run the firm. Roger and Paul worked throughout the 1970s and 80s, cultivating client relationships with an international audience, particularly with clients from the middle East who embraced the opulent scale of Kutchinsky pieces.
In 1991, Moussaieff bought the firm of Kutchinsky.
The David Webb of London
Kutchinsky established a bold new look for mid century British jewellery. Leading the way out of the austerity of the war on luxury goods, Kutchinsky embraced big forms and bold colours. They were one of the first firms to reuse platinum after the war time ban. Turquoise and coral were also frequently used to bring colour and a flair of exoticism to their pieces, as both materials were sourced internationally.
Kutchinsky jewels create an eye catching statement that celebrated the new cocktail culture emerging in 1950s London. Matching sets of brightly coloured enamel bangles, bold clip earrings and extravagant cocktail rings were produced with a focus on design. Kutchinsky brooches have become iconic, they typically featuring playful animal motifs, like their American contemporary, David Webb. The theatrical menagerie of highly stylised birds and animals were often whimsically rendered in 18K gold and were hugely popular in their work from the 1950s to 70s. Today such pieces have become desirable to collectors, their value lying less in their intrinsic material value and more on their ingenious and imaginative designs.
Several Kutchinsky designs are not displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum to celebrate the revolutionary new style it evolved in London during the post war period.