Bernard Instone Designer and Craftsman: the art of a jeweller by Tracy Henriksen



Bernard Instone was one of the most important British Arts and Crafts jewellery designers and craftsmen of the 20th century, not only because of the immense quantity and diversity of jewellery that he produced, but also because of his valuable contribution to the promotion of British craftsmanship on the world’s stage.

Throughout his career, Bernard remained stoic in his commitment to the traditions of the Arts and Crafts movement. Hugely prolific in the number of designs he produced, he took limitless inspiration from the flowers and plants he came into contact with each day.

Trained in the early 1900s at the prestigious Vittoria Street School in Birmingham, where he won numerous awards, Bernard went on to have apprenticeships with two jewellery making “stars”, John Paul Cooper in Kent and Emil Lettré in Berlin. He later founded his own silverworks in Birmingham, (producing pieces for other designers as well as for himself) designed for Liberty & Co., sold pieces to the British Royal family and held various prestigious titles within the British jewellery industry.

Bernard was a larger-than-life character, who was viewed as rather egocentric and domineering. He never failed to make an impression. Rare interviews with family members and acquaintances have helped to add flesh to Bernard, the man, offering us a rare personal insight into his life.

Previously unpublished material from the Instone Famliy Archives and Collection, as well as from other sources, has been included to illustrate the development and diversity of Bernard’s work. Hundreds of images of items have been provided by top galleries, auction houses and private individuals alike. The jewellery community has come together in an attempt to unveil the true scope and significance of Bernard’s work.