Theo Fennell is Britain’s leading jeweller.
Founded in 1982, since when we have been renowned for our imaginative, eclectic, unusual and amazingly crafted pieces. While Theo Fennell's jewels are crafted using traditional materials, they are anything but conventional.
Start discovering the world of Theo Fennell…
"Theo Fennell will become one of a handful of names who will be collected in his own right."
Former Director of Jewellery at Sotheby's, London
From Egypt to Pakistan, Theo’s childhood travels still colour his designs…
The son of an army family, Theo spent his childhood living all over the world. Born in Egypt, whose Enigmatic Sphinx inspired a lifelong obsession with the beautiful and the mysterious, Theo lived in Penang, Singapore, Pakistan, France and Germany before coming back to be educated and live in England. The influence of these early years remains ever-present in his work, with many of his designs inspired by the landscapes of his childhood.
“Jewellery and silverware should be engaging and often romantic as well as beautiful. Above all, it should give a thrill of pleasure every time it is looked at or worn.”
“Art school taught me the paramount importance of technique and skill.”
York and Byam Shaw School of Art led to his passion for design...
Educated first at Eton College, Theo went on to Art School at York, and later studied at The Byam Shaw (now part of Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design). It was at The Byam Shaw that he developed an obsession with detail, and a desire to interpret grand design on a miniature scale. Jewellery and silver objects would become the perfect medium for his art.
After leaving The Byam Shaw, Theo got his first job working as an apprentice, dogsbody and designer in the Dickensian surrounds of silversmiths Edward Barnard, which was established in the 17th Century. When a customer brought in a solid gold champagne flute from the 1920’s for repair, engraved with the message “Good Morning, Diana”, Theo was delighted by the witty and charming sentiment, and became much taken with the idea of the glamorous “Diana” and how much emotional heft such a thing could have.
The Beginnings - To Our Days
After his time with Barnard’s Theo established a small workshop in Hatton Garden designing and creating silverware and jewellery…
The first Theo Fennell shop opened with a workshop and studio in Chelsea’s Fulham Road with the founding of the eponymous company in 1982. Further boutiques opened and were soon followed by concessions in many of England’s most famous department stores, including Harrods and Selfridges. Later these would be joined by similar concessions across the globe, giving the company its international reputation.
Intelligent, witty design and exceptional craftsmanship are the cornerstones of Theo’s philosophy and, to ensure the highest quality, he insists that all his one-off and bespoke jewellery and silverware is made by his own team of exceptional, world-class craftsmen, many of whom have worked with him for decades.
This unique approach to every design has ensured that Theo’s highly prized creations, the result of an extraordinary, idiosyncratic imagination and dedicated team-work, are among the rarest and most sought-after pieces in the world.
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"It is the marriage of design and craftsmanship to beautiful and rare materials that gives romance and prominence to jewellery. It should be personal and life-enhancing.”
"I jot down ideas constantly and things I see. Sketching is a very good catalyst to get one's brain working. There is something about sketching that is very intimate- the moment you start taking photos it creates the first degree of separation between you and the object. Sketching, especially in ink where no changes can be made, makes you look more carefully."
The ingenious, eclectic and talismanic pieces that emerge from the workshop all start in the pages of a sketchbook…
Theo is famous for his extraordinary, priceless sketchbooks, filled with beautiful and ornate designs. The sketches take their inspiration from a cornucopia of sources, from the ruins of ancient Greece to the Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of fame, from graveyards to classic portraits; sketches of his travels and of random ideas for designs that appear in a moment. These early drawings form the basis of the design process. The extraordinarily talented team in his studio, which has such a broad spectrum of skills and imagination work with Theo to start the journey of concept to reality.
Sometimes, it is the materials themselves that supply the inspiration:
"I have two different ways of working. Sometimes I choose the materials and techniques and then have a stone cut to fit the design, but as often a stone suggests a theme to me occasionally I see a stone and just fall in love with it and know exactly what I want to do with it. Paraiba tourmalines, for example, have an irrelevant South Sea Islands, fathomless-blue-sea feel to them, so an underwater story might come to mind. The allusions can be less obvious, of course, but they all resonate and pull out different feelings."
Unique Craftsmen & Workshop
Some of the most talented craftsmen in the world work at Theo Fennell, many of whom have worked with Theo for over 20 years, some over 30. Together they create exceptional and one-off pieces every day.
Our workshop at Theo Fennell, above the Fulham Road flagship store in the heart of London, has been busy for over 30 years employing the finest craftsmen. Their attention to detail is in a league of its own and they share the same passion, love of experimentation and humour as Theo. Still using some of the most difficult and ancient techniques, Theo employs those whose skills might otherwise have died out.
The completely self-contained workshop is home to a dozen individual and brilliant experts. We do our own mounting, smithing, engraving, setting and polishing. We are one of the very few workshops left to do this, and one of a tiny handful who have a workshop attached to the retail shop. The workshop still uses many of the original tools, some over 100 years old.
Even though some of the craftsmen have been with Theo for so long, he also believes in nurturing young talent and always has apprentices training in his workshop to keep this great British craft alive. We are always training up the young and believe it is vital to this great trade that its skills are handed down through the generations.
'Everyone I take upstairs to the workshop to see how our pieces are made has been astonished and often, profoundly moved by the tremendous work and love that has gone into each piece. This is what I always hope really good jewellery will achieve, and the reaction to our designs is a testament to the skills of the amazing team here.'
meet the team
“I am prouder of our workshop than you can imagine – it is like being a composer and having the finest orchestra in the world in front of you!”
Has been making world-class jewellery for over fifty years; ten of them for the late, great Andrew Grima and for the last twenty five years in Theo’s workshop. He makes our wonderful diamond mounts and is the kindest man in the world. He spends a lot of his time looking after our apprentices.
This years’ well deserved winner of the world’s most prestigious prize for craftsmen in jewellery, the Jaques Cartier Award, and also the winner, for the last two years of the Goldsmith’s Model-makers award. He has worked and woven his magic for Theo for over thirty years. He is a small-worker without parallel, and a very fine drummer.
A superb, classic jewellery mounter, painstaking and a really honest craftsman, he has perfected the art of making Theo’s iconic Bombe rings, amongst other skills, for over thirty wonderful years.
Has been with us for nine years and is an extraordinary, adaptable jeweller. First, an apprentice in London, he then worked in Paris for twenty-four years before coming back to work in London for Theo.
An extraordinary, quite brilliant goldsmith and mounter who has been with Theo since he was a boy for eighteen years. He is the genius behind the crafting of many of Theo’s opening rings and has made some of the most complicated pieces imaginable. His is a very rare talent.
Is the boss of the workshop and started as a traditional silversmith apprentice – he has a vast knowledge of the trade and is the conductor of the orchestra, as it were. There is little he doesn’t know about the techniques of the jewellery and silver trade.
Worked with Theo in the studio for years and her grasp of design means she can make sure all of the workshop’s many detailed, complicated processes come together when they should, as well as having all sorts of peripheral skills like stringing beads and sewing leather.
Is our polisher, and an exceptionally brilliant one. He is normally covered in polish from his job but smiles through it all. A polisher can make or break a piece that other craftsmen have spent weeks on so he has to be very good indeed!
Can engrave anything back to front or the right way round, shallow or deep. His skills are on display on some of the greatest sporting trophies in the world and on some of the most spectacular silverware and jewellery all over the world – his is an extraordinary craft.
Is, quite simply, the best setter Theo has ever come across – he has won every prize he has ever entered and deservedly so. A good stone setter makes sure that you don’t even notice how the stones are held in and so keeps the purity of a piece; he does this as if by magic; a unique and incomparable craftsman.
Is our current apprentice. We believe deeply in the apprentice system and the great craftsmen in our workshop enabling the great traditions & skills of our trade to be carried on. He has much to live up to as our last apprentice won all the prizes going; however he's in good hands and developing great skills. He is however an unusual sight early in the morning in his cycling outfit.
These are some of the superb, world-class craftsmen who make up part of our team – not to mention our other goldsmiths, deep engravers, enamellers, polishers and artists who all contribute to making Theo Fennell’s pieces among ones that collectors worldwide most covet.
Theo’s unique pieces are unique for a simple reason: no one else would be able to design and craft such imaginative work full of such unexpected details.
It is the central tenet of Theo Fennell that jewellery and silverware should be original, beautifully crafted and designed, with immaculate attention to detail.
Theo Fennell is generally acknowledged as Britain's foremost designer of jewellery and silverware.
Theo Fennell’s pieces have been captivating the world for over 30 years. His unique work is truly innovative and distinctive, stretching the boundaries of the craft. The collections are more than just jewellery and silver because Theo is passionate about the originality and craftsmanship of every piece that passes through our dedicated workshop above the flagship store at 169 Fulham Road, London.
It is the central tenet of Theo Fennell that jewellery and silverware should be original, beautifully crafted and designed, with immaculate attention to detail. For this reason, the company continues, as it first started, to base itself around its studios and workshops and these remain the heartbeat of the company, and the reason that it remains truly design-lead.
"Jewellery should be something talismanic and precious, beautifully made to last and not at the ephemeral whim of fashion: it should be truly owned. Jewellery has that power - it is a very romantic, sexy and emotional thing."
Theo Fennell’s great exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, changed many people's perceptions about what jewellery can be.
“Show Off!” was a groundbreaking exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts that displayed Theo Fennell’s masterpieces in a variety of sensational and original contexts. Exquisitely detailed dioramas, sinister waxworks dripping with jewels, immersive theatre in which the actors wore the designs, the exhibition brought the pieces to dazzling life.
‘Theo Fennell has created an Alice in Wonderland-style exhibition of jewellery, by arrangement with the Royal Academy of Arts, in the hope that it will encourage the public to consider the craftsmanship behind the pieces and see them as something "magical and engaging".’ Vogue
Royal College of Art
We have sponsored The Theo Fennell annual awards at the Royal College of Art since 2004.
The Theo Fennell Awards are now in their tenth year, with prizes awarded to graduating students from The Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork and Jewellery course . Many previous winners, such as Victoria Delany, who was awarded the prize for Best Work in Silver in 2010, have gone on to become highly recognised young designers.
"I’m not a great expert on jewellery, but the argument that it will be around when everything else in civilisation’s gone, impress me and I can see why."