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In conversation with Hamilton & Inches

We recently sat down with Hamilton & Inches CEO, Victoria Houghton, to ask her all about the incredibly inspiring company that she works for whom we are proud to call one of our esteemed partners.

Cumbria Crystal and Hamilton & Inches have worked together for many years now with great synergy. Whilst we strive to be one of the best in the world when it comes to luxury crystal glass, you do the same regarding hand-crafted silver. Tell us about the journey attached to this endeavour, the history of the brand and details regarding the market you operate within.

Hamilton & Inches was founded by Robert Kirk Inches and his uncle James Hamilton in 1866. We have celebrated many key milestones including being first granted a Royal Warrant more than 120 years ago, appointed “His Majesty’s Clockmaker and Keeper and Dresser of His Majesty’s Clocks, Watches and Pendulums in Palaces and Houses in his Ancient Kingdom of Scotland”. Although the original title no longer remains, in 2010 Hamilton & Inches was appointed “Silversmiths and Clock Specialists to her Majesty The Queen”.

We have maintained our own onsite workshops since inception, housing a team of highly skilled craftspeople, including master polishers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, and engravers; all of whom have honed their craft through the knowledge and skills passed down from previous generations. Alongside the team we have invested in exclusive facilities for some of the world’s finest jewellery collections. Delivering an authentic and bespoke service, alongside a contemporary and luxurious offering, the specialist team at Hamilton & Inches provides clients with an unforgettable experience.

Hamilton & Inches has stood the test of time, with 155 years of passion, creativity, artistry, and dedication to craftsmanship.

Your team of craftspeople consists of silversmiths, goldsmiths, polishers and engravers. Like Cumbria Crystal, you are committed to the heritage crafts using traditional techniques. Can you tell us a little more about that? How long does it take to create a single item?

Our team are a blend of masters and apprentices, a group of unassuming friends who, when put to task, create pieces of magic. They are incredibly diverse in age, in culture, in inspiration and technique but one thing unites them; they have crafted some of the finest pieces of silverware and jewellery in the world.

For 155 years they have passed their knowledge and skills from one generation to the next. We are fortunate to have several specialists in a variety of fields, who continue to keep the crafts alive through the H&I Academy.

Our two-resident hand-engravers are exceptional artists, who work using their expert eye and perfectly steady hands. Each piece of work they undertake has their own unique footprint, from their individualistic styles to their own distinctive artistic nuances.

Our silversmith team, Panos, David, Paul, George, and Ruth have over 59 years of silversmithing experience between them, in that time creating exceptional items for the worlds of rugby, football, whisky, education and more. They have created candelabras and bookmarks and tumble cups and dinosaurs; each with their own unique style, all with absolute devotion.

Colin Golder is our award-winning polisher who celebrates his 30-year anniversary with us this year. His keen eye for detail is vital to the design and production of our silver, guiding how pieces will be assembled to ensure that they can be polished effectively.

Alan and Jenna (left) are our expert goldsmiths, tasked with taking care of exceptional items of jewellery and creating new, ranges including our exclusive Scottish Gold Collection and The H&I Engagement Collection.

The length of time required to create one item depends on the exacting requirements of the client. Although each job varies, from the University of Glasgow Mace which took over 100 hours of work (and a year from brief to completion) to our silver Luna earrings which are hand-crafted every day, the dedication and devotion applied to the craft of each piece is constant.

We both develop bespoke items for customers on request. Can you share with us what that process looks like for Hamilton & Inches?

We have been handcrafting bespoke silverware, fine jewellery and sporting awards for generations.

The commission process begins by outlining the design concept. This can be inspired by something a customer already owns, a sketch or an idea. Our team will then work to create initial sketches before the client reviews, prior to preparing full design drawings so you can see your piece coming to life.

Once the drawings have been reviewed and agreed our expert teams will begin to craft the piece in our Edinburgh workshops. Each element crafted by hand, the care and devotion of our craftspeople is truly visible in each and every piece our team create. 

On April 26th you opened your doors open to your newly refurbished showroom in Edinburgh, which I am sure our readers will love to visit when venturing afar is a little easier. Tell us what has changed and what we can expect.

Dedicated to enhancing the customer experience, we recently embarked on an incredible transformation, with elegant upgrades taking place across its showroom, workshops, and service department, creating a space that celebrates heritage whilst innovating with contemporary design.

To accentuate the glamour of the new showroom, we implemented a striking new store front, which sees us rejuvenate our original design, installing curved glass panels set in an antique bronze, with jewellery displayed on a carved breccia marble plinth topped in silk.

Our new interior features, influenced by historic photographs of the Victorian Hamilton & Inches, include an extravagant traditional design palette, reimagined for today. Every new detail accentuates the ornate historic elements of the dramatic Georgian ceiling, alongside chandelier lighting, which creates a generous glow that spills out onto George Street.

We have a beautifully curated new lifestyle area situated within the showroom beside the 19th century Adam fireplace which offers clients a space where they can drop in to shop, and stay for a cup of coffee, or a glass of champagne. We incorporated residential elements into a retail environment to achieve an inviting and comfortable atmosphere.

At Cumbria Crystal, having a partnership with such a high-level silversmith allows us to develop products which are of the highest, luxury quality in both crystal and silver. How has working with us enabled to expand your offering to your own customer base?

Partnering with likeminded suppliers, who value quality allows us to expand our offering knowing that what we produce will meet company standards and the expectations of our clients.

We currently have a beautiful selection of Cumbria Crystal items on our website and in the showroom and we’re working on an exciting new barware collection which heavily features crystal, including a unique crystal and silver cocktail shaker.

Custom commissions continue to be created in the Hamilton & Inches workshops today, using the ancient skills and crafts essential to creating iconic items that will be remembered and celebrated forever, including bespoke silver and crystal designs.

Which is your most popular hand-crafted item?

The Double Oval Link Pendant in Sterling Silver from the Luna jewellery Collection is our most popular silver item, designed and hand-crafted in the workshops above the showroom by our silversmith, Ruth Page.

It is inspired by the natural landscape of the moon, and the collection name comes from the Latin word luna, meaning moon. The textured silver finish is inspired by the surface of the moon with countless volcanoes and craters. The interlocking silver links reflect light like moonlight dancing on the water’s edge.

Explore the Cumbria Crystal x Hamilton & Inches collection

Visit Hamilton & Inches online or at their stunning showroom at 87 George Street, Edinburgh.

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