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Thistle and Broom Stories
Hamilton & Inches

With a Royal Warrant as silversmith to Her Majesty, The Queen, a storied history begun as a family owned business in 1866, purchased by The Asprey Group in 1992, and brought back under Scottish management by a management led buy-out in August of 1998, Scotland's Hamilton & Inches is recognised as one of the UK's leading purveyors of jewelry, watches, silver and luxury goods. As well as this, hidden above the pillared Edwardian grandeur of the Edinburgh flagship store on George Street is the award winning silver workshops founded there in 1896.  The original workman's tools and benches are very much in evidence, this is the home to some of the finest silver craftsmen in the world. A workshop that thrives on special commissions, where producing individual pieces of enduring beauty is a collaborative process at each stage of production. Just imagine trying to tell Scotland's story without her captivating agates, yet, astoundingly enough the skill set required for this work had become virtually impossible to source, even for Hamilton & Inches.

Exterior of the Shop

Part of the Interior of the Shop

Enter Thistle & Broom. Offering fresh and exciting designs using Scotland's ubiquitous agates was without question but if Hamilton & Inches didn't have a lapidary then where would one find such a person? One night in early January of 2005 after weeks of frustration using online search engines, that big online auction house turned out to be the critical reference site for finding this elusive person. Typing in Scottish Agate an offering of "Scottish agates by the pound" was found, an email dialogue developed and a few months later they'd found a self-taught lapidary with thirteen years of experience. Renato Forno scours the Scottish countryside for these beautiful stones; white stones from Montrose, Carnelians in Cupar, pinks found at Balindean, deep brown agates from the Black quarry and the amazing moss green agates of Scurr hill near Tayport. Working as time immemorial with diamond tipped saws, grinding and polishing machines and the oldest manner a stick with a piece of molten (and hardened wax) holding the roughly shaped stone, what he produces is magic.


With the two critical components in place for production, Thistle & Broom could return to the desire to offer fresh, innovative designs based upon Scotland's agates and silver and the skilled artisans necessary to bring out the beauty of both.


St. Magnus CathedralOn Orkney's Mainland, in downtown Kirkwall there stands a massive testament to God in the form of St. Magnus Cathedral, wrought of the local sandstone it has glowed softly red in afternoon light since 1137. To commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of the cathedral a baptismal font was commissioned. A large piece of pure white Carrara Marble was offered and a suggestion was made that the children of Orkney make a pilgrimage from Egilsay to Kirkwall (the breadth of the parish) was embraced. Intended to reflect the procession that was made when the holy relics of St Magnus bones were moved from Birsay to Kirkwall, along the way the children sought out a suitable stone from each parish on the island. The collected stones were sent to Italy to be cut, polished and then set into the magnificent baptismal font.  Thistle & Broom's managing director first saw the font and the cathedral in November of 2004 and immediately thought that a bracelet patterned after the banding and stones would be perfect.


The baptismal font


St Magnus braceletAfter nearly 9 months of specifications, drawings, determining finishes and selecting stones, Thistle & Broom took possession of the first of the magnificent St. Magnus bracelets (each unique given the stones and handcraftsmanship) a mere two weeks ago. The press release hasn't even been issued yet and we bring you this story.  The bracelet is available by special order only as each one will be custom made for the individual wearer. Accommodation can be made to use stones from the geographic region of Scotland of your ancestors or clan; please enquire in advance of ordering for availability and special pricing.


The St Magnus bracelet is powerful, it's sensuous, and as we understand from a woman who has had the opportunity to wear it, almost heart wrenching to take it off. The bracelet is at once both timeless and modern, a piece of jewelry for the ages and a unique tribute to various aspects of Scotland's heritage.

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