If there’s one thing that makes the wealthy and elite stand out it’s beautiful jewellery. The craftsmanship that exudes amidst the sparkles catches the discerning eye, whilst the story behind the design
sets for great after-dinner stories. In the UK, one provider of such jewellery is Boodles; a true gem of a family business.
Boodles was founded in 1798 in Liverpool, and it is still looked after by the Wainwright family 5/6 generations on. What began as a single jewellery shop, is now a business that operates several outlets in the north of England and London – with one situated opposite Harrods and one now on Bond Street.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
Superb quality diamonds, and the skill they demand to be shown off in the best light, are a key speciality of the brand. However, the talented team of designers are keen to include the vivid colours of all gems in their designs. Their famous Raindance ring is an excellent example, featuring nine stunning gems (there are many combinations to choose from, though the pure diamond ring was the one that kicked off this line). The design was inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show. Chief Designer, Rebecca Hawkins, was visiting on a wet day and was caught by the beauty of the raindrops glistening in the sun amidst the splash of colour.
The Boodles Story
But a true passion for jewellery is what sits behind all the stunning collections. Yes, it’s a commercial enterprise, but the ability to bring metal and stones together in a breath-taking way is what drives the company forward.
Though the first shop was started by the Kirk family in 1798, in 1855 it was taken over by William Wainwright who named it ‘Wainwright’. He was the Great Great Great Great Uncle of the youngest members of the family now running Boodles. And the business has passed through the Wainwright family from there.
However, in 1910, two Wainwright sons bought another very established business named Boodle and Dunthorne. And it was in 1920 that the house of Boodles as we know it opened in Liverpool – on the corner of Lord Street and North John Street – and the business has never looked back.
Glitter for Royal Eyes
In 1934, King George V visited the North West. Boodle & Dunthorne were commissioned to make a silver-gilt switch box, which was to be presented to the king when he opened Birkenhead Library. At this point, it’s clear that the name was truly established in the minds of the elite. Then in 1947, Boodle & Dunthorne made a solid silver cake stand for one of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding cakes.
Continuing their royal connections, they developed a keen interest in horse racing, and in 1958 they won the gold trophy at the Grand National, with the Queen Mother’s jockey riding their horse Mr What. They also began to ‘run’ a polo team, and in 1989 found themselves presenting the Boodles Trophy to HRH The Prince of Wales when his polo team walloped theirs at Cirencester Polo Club.
The family then spread their interest further afield to include tennis. In 2002 they held their first Boodles tournament at Stoke Park. The event over the years has hosted many well known players, including Henman, Sampras, Agasi, Murray, Djokovic and Nadal! They also hosted their first Boodles Boxing Ball in 2006, which was attended by William and Harry, with the then named Kate Middleton.
A Change is as Good as a Rest
With the business now firmly ensconced within the psyche of the elite, it made sense to review the name and the brand. In 2004, the business became known as simply, Boodles. And in 2007, they opened their first shop on Bond Street.
Known for their Stunning Collections
Boodles have become known for the stunning collections they create, which are born through truly wondrous inspiration; raindrops at the Chelsea Flower Show, the beauty of the imaginary world, the Pas de Deux of the Royal Ballet, and the stunning nature of the British landscape.
The Current Setting
The Wainwrights have made a point of ‘keeping it in the family’, there are no external influences involved. They are dedicated to their customers, north and south. And they proudly boast that Boodles “sometimes sees young women coming in for their engagement rings whose mothers and grandmothers are also wearing Boodles engagement rings”.
Thus, as the title of this article suggests, Boodles has become a national treasure. There is no doubt that they are world renowned, however they still only have shops in the UK.
So what is on the horizon for Boodles in these post-Covid times? Of course, as per their way, they have found inspiration from what we’ve all been craving for over a year– travel. They are launching a travel-themed collection this year. And being supported by their properly sustainable ethos for sourcing gold and gems ethically and responsibly, there is little reason to think this new collection won’t also be a flying success!