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Rundell Bridge & Rundell

Rundells was Royal Goldsmith from 1797 until 1843. The firm was responsible for the Crown Jewels used at the coronations of George IV (1762–1830), William IV (1765–1837) and Queen Victoria (1819–1901), as well as for a wide range of banqueting plate and jewellery now in the Royal Collection.

Philip Rundell (1746–1827) and John Bridge (bapt. 1755– died 1834) of Rundell & Bridge received the royal warrant in 1797. Over the next five years they increasingly outperformed their key competitor, Philip Gilbert, and won the valuable – and extravagant – patronage of the future George IV. By the time of his coronation in 1821, the firm was in a position to receive the most lucrative commissions, on which the king spent over £48,000.

Among the pieces created was the Diamond Diadem, which George IV wore in the procession to Westminster Abbey. It has subsequently been worn and modified by numerous queens regnant and consort, including Her Majesty The Queen. Set with 1,333 diamonds, it is today one of the most recognisable pieces of jewellery in the Collection thanks to its frequent appearance on postage stamps and coins. Rundells also produced the Jewelled Sword of Offering at this time – a piece now presented to the monarch during the coronation service as a symbol of their intent to defend good and punish evil.

Throughout his life, George IV also commissioned exquisite banqueting plate from Rundells for his lavish 'Grand Service' at Carlton House. These items included the wine cooler which Queen Victoria later converted into a giant punch bowl – the largest piece of wrought English plate in existence. In supplying this and other plate, Rundells sparked an early nineteenth-century vogue for naturalism and the rococo revival style. The firm also provided numerous sixteenth- and seventeenth-century designs – including tankards, flagons and a copy of the Shield of Achilles – for the extensive 'cabinet of wonders' of Frederick, Duke of York. Many remain in the Royal Collection.

Prevailing economic depression and Parliament's control of funds meant Rundells' work for the coronation of William IV in 1831 was relatively limited. In spite of this, two new crowns were made for the king, as well as new Sovereign's Rings for the king and queen. The Sovereign's Ring made by Rundells for William IV has been used at every coronation since King Edward VII's in 1902. For the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838, Rundells provided a new Sovereign's Ring and a jewelled silver-gilt Sword of Offering. With the other regalia, these now form part of the Crown Jewels.

Although Philip Rundell and John Bridge were both named in the royal warrant of 1797, it was Bridge who acted as Royal Goldsmith until his death in 1834. His nephew John Bridge succeeded him and served in this position until the firm went into dissolution in 1843. From 1804, the firm was known as Rundell, Bridge and Rundell, and from 1834, Rundell, Bridge & Co.


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