null

Our History

Hester Clarke is now into its fifth generation of the Clarke Family. After over 130 years, we still strive to give the same professional and friendly service we have been offering our customers since 1892. Read more about our history below.

 

1892

Wilson & Gill founded in Regent Street

Mr Wilson & Mr Gill opened their jewellery shop in April 1892 at 134 Regent Street London. Most of their work at this time was Silversmithing, producing elegant and beautiful centerpieces and trinkets that were classic of the late Victorian period

 

1913

Victor Clarke Joins Wilson & Gill

After learning the trade at a Birmingham jewellery manufacturer, Victor Clarke Joins Mr. Wilson and Mr. Gill as the third partner in the business

 

1914-1918

World War I

The company remained open and trading during the First World War, although much of the what they produced would have changed due to restrictions on materials.
When they published their Christmas catalogue in 1918, they apologised to their customers for not producing a catalogue during the war in true british fashion, by simply saying it was “owing to the difficulties with regards to paper restrictions, and shortage of staff over the past few years”

 

1924

Lawson & Raphael join Wilson & Gill

Victor's sons Lawson Clarke and Raphael Clarke join the business, as the Second Generation of the Clarke family to work in the company
The two brothers worked together for many years, and Lawson went on to become the President of the National Association of Goldsmiths

 

1928

The 'Classic Jumbo' Lighter

The 'Classic Jumbo' Lighter, patented by Wilson & Gill in 1928. It's unique design made it the first lighter to use a second wheel to strike the flint, preventing the users hands from getting dirty.

 

1935

The 'Master Incolor' Shaker

Patented by Lawson & Raphael Clarke in 1934, and first manufactured in England in 1935, the ‘Master Incolor’ is a classic of Art Deco streamlined design with several unique features
The rotating drum displayed eight popular cocktail recipes of the day, and the "magical" spout was designed to ensure no spillage, and was completely unique to the Master Incolor
This now sought-after Cocktail Shaker is considered a classic example of its time

 

1939-1945

World War II

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the company once again went through a turbulent time of trading, dealing with the lack of working men, declining wartime trade and the restriction of materials.
The Regent Street shop survived The Blitz, although parts of Regent Street were damaged in the bombings.

 

1946

The Star of Egypt

In late 1946, Wilson & Gill came into possession of a 105.5ct pure white and flawless Diamond, named The Star of Egypt
Lawson Clarke approached King Farouk of Egypt, who expressed interest in buying the stone
Due to security concerns, Lawson took a flight to Cairo with the stone concealed in his trouser pocket
King Farouk liked the stone, and it was set into a mount that attached to a Fez
The stone disappeared after Farouk was deposed in 1952, and its current whereabouts are unknown

 

1942

Lawson Clarke becomes a Fellow of The Gemmological Association

Gem-A, which began as a Gemmological Committee of the National Association of Goldsmiths, first introduced a gemmology qualification in 1908 in order to encourage jewellers to understand the gems they were selling and to identify the fakes

 

1946

Wilson & Gill become a limited company

Following the conclusion of World War 2, Wilson & Gill register as a limited company

 

1947

Lawson and Raphael Clarke take over

Following Victor's death his two sons, Lawson & Raphael, take over the running of the business

 

1953

The Queen's Coronation

During the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the procession passed right infront on the Wilson & Gill showroom
Customers were invited to watch from the showroom, and all the windows were removed to make room for tiered seating
Wilson & Gill commissioned this exact replica of the Imperial State Crown to celebrate the occasion
The real Crown is decorated with 5 rubies, 11 emeralds, 17 Sapphires, 73 Pearls and 2868 Diamonds

 

1955

Christopher Clarke joins Wilson & Gill

The third generation of Clarke's joins the company, when Lawson's son Christopher Clarke joins Wilson & Gill having trained at Biggs of Farnham.
Christopher would go on to hold important roles in many trade associations, including becoming Vice-Chairman of the National Association of Goldsmiths, as well as Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers.

 

1969

Ann Clarke joins the Family Business

Christopher's wife Ann joins the Family Business as one of the third generation
With a focus on visual marketing and display, Ann quickly makes a big contribution and becomes a valued member of the Family team

 

1969

Hester Clarke is born

Lawson, his son Christoper and Christopher's wife Ann buy out Raymond Hester of Hester and Sons, who had premises in Aylesbury and Princes Risborough. Raymond was looking to retire, and hoped to pass his family owned business on to a family who shared his values. The decision was taken to relocate from London to take over the business that served the heart of Buckinghamshire. Wilson & Gill and Hester & Sons become Hester Clarke Ltd

 

1977

Nicola Clarke joins the Family Business

Nicola Clarke joins Hester Clarke, having trained at George Tarratt's of Leicester
Nicola became the Fourth generation of Clarke to work for the company. Nicola holds her RJ Dip, and became a Director of Hester Clarke before her retirement
Nicola is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and the Worshipful Company of Spectaclemakers, and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
In 2004 Nicola was a Steward of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers

 

1979

Julia Clarke joins the family business

Julia Clarke joins the company, having trained at E W Payne of Bromley. Julia holds her RJ Dip, as well as being a Fellow of the Gemmological Association, and a Fellow of the National Association of Goldsmiths. Julia was Managing Director of Hester Clarke before her retirement.
Julia is a Liveryman of both the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, and the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. In 2014, Julia was named a Trustee of the Goldsmiths’ Centre in London, a charity dedicated to the support and training of goldsmiths.

 

1992

Christopher Clarke named Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers

After many years in the industry, Christopher Clarke is named the Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, a Livery Company first established under a Royal Charter granted by King Charles I in 1631

 

2007

Michael Ellis joins family business

Julia's son Michael joins Hester Clarke, becoming the Fifth Generation of the family to work in the company

 

2017

Celebrating 125 Years

Hester Clarke celebrates 125 years since the founding of the original company in 1892

 

2019

Hester Clarke moves online

Following Julia & Nicola's retirement and the closing of our Aylesbury Showroom, Julia's son Michael takes over the Hester Clarke name after working in the family business for over 13 years. With hundreds of pieces of British made fine jewellery, the new website aims to provide the same great quality and service the family has become renowned for over the last 130 years.