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History of W Hamond

Over 150 Years of jewellery excellence...

Unknown to many, you don’t need to travel to the far-flung corners of the world to discover stunning and unique gemstones. Here in Britain, in the small Yorkshire fishing town of Whitby, you will find the home of a beautiful gemstone that has been turning heads for centuries. This gemstone is known as Whitby Jet.

With a history spanning more than 150 years, W Hamond is famed for being the Original Whitby Jet Shop celebrated for transforming the unique black gemstone into coveted pieces of jewellery. Local man James Storr opened the doors to the original boutique in 1860, a time when the height of the town’s Whitby Jet jewellery and ornament production was at its greatest. It was also during this era that Queen Victoria became the gemstone’s most distinguished patron, wearing the jet-black gemstone to mourn the loss of her beloved Albert in 1861. She valued Whitby Jet jewellery so much that she made it the only jewellery allowed to be worn in court during this period.

Ever since it first opened its doors, W Hamond has remained in its original place at the top of Whitby's historic Church Street and at the foot of the famous Abbey steps, becoming an unmoveable part of the town’s heritage. The charming boutique has become a Victorian treasure since its first opening, offering a glimpse into an era when Whitby as a holiday destination was still in its infancy and fashionable Crinoline-clad ladies sought a piece of handmade Jet jewellery as a souvenir of their visit.

Maintaining a local workshop heritage

Although Jet can be found in several other countries around the world, including Germany, Spain and Siberia, it is still considered that only the finest pieces of Jet come from the north-east coast of Yorkshire in England. It is here that W Hamond sources all its raw gemstone material to create unique collections of Whitby Jet jewellery.

Even though the large lathes and dust-filled rooms of Victorian times have now been replaced by modern equipment and a healthy working environment, it is still at the upmost importance to W Hamond and their talented craftsmen to maintain age old techniques and combine them with modern technology to keep the traditional craftsmanship of Whitby Jet alive.

The Whitby Jet stone can be found in a variety of different shapes and sizes which often dictates the final appearance of a piece of jewellery. Every piece of Whitby Jet jewellery is completely unique to the stone that beholds it. We may sometimes take an extra large and perfect piece of raw material and make it into a single, stunning pendant or brooch rather than cutting it to make several smaller items. It is our dedication to preserving the beauty of the Whitby Jet stone that makes our jewellery collections so magnificent.

Boutique Openings

Following 147 successful years in Whitby, W Hamond decided to open its very first outpost in 2001 in the equally historic town of York. The quaint and famous Shambles became home to the second W Hamond boutique, a place where Roman excavations had previously unearthed many items of Whitby Jet making it a suitable spot for W Hamond’s next venture. Small but perfectly formed, this pretty boutique, with its ancient timbers and flagstone floor, offers an equally inspiring experience for our customers.

Maintaining a strong connection to North Yorkshire, W Hamond Leeds then opened in 2013 in the Victoria Quarter– the North's premiere fashion and lifestyle destination. Housed in an elegant Grade II listed building, W Hamond Leeds sits in good company amongst the world's leading fashion and lifestyle brands including Louis Vuitton, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Mulberry and Harvey Nichols. All of these make the Victoria Quarter justifiably renowned as one of the country's finest shopping destinations with many boutiques having an emphasis on British Jewellery design. We are proud that our W Hamond Leeds boutique is home to one of the finest diamond collections in the north.

You can find all the contact details and locations of our W Hamond boutiques on the Store Locator page.

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