Even before George Pragnell established his family-run jewellery business he had a royal connection. While apprenticing, and later running the jewellers Biggs of Maidenhead (and Farnham), he was fortunate to, on occasion, look after Queen Mary from the early 1930s until her death in 1953.A year later he took over a small jewellers based in a Tudor cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon (the company still owns the building today) built by Abraham Sturley, carpenter and friend of the most celebrated storyteller of them all – William Shakespeare.
Over the years Pragnell expanded and acquired other jewellery companies including Philip Antrobus of Bond Street, who in 1946 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 Battenburg, gave her son one of her magnificent tiaras, which was dismantled to create athree-carat brilliant round diamond engagement ring, flanked by four smaller pavé-set diamonds on either side. The Antrobus bracelet and engagement ring were worn by Princess Elizabeth on her wedding day, along with jewellery from her grandmother, Queen Mary.
Fast forward 70 years to the Royal Platinum wedding Anniversary and Pragnell has ‘re-imagined’ the Queen’s diamond Antrobus bracelet. It features over 320 modern brilliant cut diamonds, each 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 their role as founders of the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award. Pragnell 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 commemorative dome clock created using the ancient technique of Limoges painted enamels.
These days Pragnell has vast expertise in antique silver, gemology, valuations, design, watchmaking, goldsmithing and trophies; boasting a greater diversity of goods and services under one roof than any other fine jeweller in the UK.
Acquiring the finest rare gemstones is a labour of love, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Masterpiece collection. Gemstones in every masterpiece are hand-selected by a member of the Pragnell family and pieces are designed around the stone in order to preserve 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 owner becomes 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'. This truly sets Pragnell apart as storytellers, as well as jewellers.