Even before George Pragnell established his family-run jewellery business he had a royal connection.
From the early 1930s, while apprenticing, and later running the jewellers Biggs of Maidenhead and Farnham, he was fortunate, on occasion, to look after Queen Mary. She died in 1953 and a year later he took over a small jewellers, based in a Tudor cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, built by carpenter Abraham Sturley, a friend of William Shakespeare. The company still owns the building today. Over the years Pragnell expanded and acquired other jewellery companies including Philip Antrobus of Bond Street. In 1946 Philip Antrobus was commissioned to design the Queen’s engagement ring and a bespoke bracelet for the royal wedding.
To provide diamonds fit for a queen, Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, gave her son one of her magnificent tiaras, which was dismantled to create a three-carat brilliant round diamond engagement ring, flanked by four smaller pavé-set diamonds.
Princess Elizabeth wore the Antrobus bracelet and engagement ring on her wedding day, along with jewellery from her grandmother, Queen Mary. Fast forward to the royal platinum wedding anniversary this year and Pragnell has ‘re-imagined’ the Queen’s diamond Antrobus bracelet. This bracelet is not a replica but pays homage to the Queen’s iconic original, with three identical 2.5-carat diamond centrepieces referencing the Antrobus’s geometric style, and over 320 modern brilliant cut diamonds. Each diamond is hand-selected by managing director Charlie Pragnell, George’s grandson, to ensure that the bracelet showcases diamonds of the finest cut and highest quality. The Pragnell family has also become synonymous with Shakespeare’s memory, owing to its role as founder of the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award. The Pragnells joined in last year’s commemorations marking the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. A collaboration between Pragnell and Swiss watchmaker, Patek Philippe, culminated in a fitting tribute to the Bard – a dome clock created using the ancient technique of Limoges painted enamels.
Pragnell has vast expertise in antique silver, gemology, valuations, design, watchmaking, goldsmithing and trophies; boasting a greater diversity of related goods and services under one roof than
any other fine jeweller in Britain. Acquiring the finest rare gemstones is a labour of love, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Masterpiece collection. Gemstones are hand-selected by a member of the Pragnell family and pieces are designed around the stone in order to highlight its unique quality, before it is passed to a master goldsmith for finishing.
What’s more, all items in the Pragnell Masterpiece collection are individually numbered, so their owners become part of the Pragnell story.
‘Important jewellery should be unique,’ says Charlie Pragnell, ‘and any unique creation requires artistry to tell a story and create an emotion when someone observes it. To us, jewellery is art, not fashion.’ More than just a superb jeweller, Pragnell is a storyteller. Excitingly, in November 2017, Pragnell opened a shop in Mayfair (14 Mount Street; 020 7409 2845), showcasing its complete collection of British handcrafted jewellery masterpieces, alongside luxury Swiss watch brands Patek Philippe and Rolex.
GEORGE PRAGNELL 5-6 WOOD STREET, STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, WARWICKSHIRE CV37 6JA +44 (0)1789 267072