Meet The Maker - KJD Jewellers
We seldom treat ourselves to beautiful jewellery to wear with our shirts, yet undoubtedly reach for a pair of cufflinks on a regular basis, fumble for some collar stays or wish that we had an elegant accent to add to our dress shirts when occasions demand that we dress up.
Budd has long carried a beautiful range of men’s formal wear accoutrements and has worked with Birmingham jeweller, KJD for several decades. Under the mindful watch of our dedicated shop manager, Christopher Mundy, 2018 has seen us substantially grow our collaboration with these fine craftsmen, in response to feedback from customers and our high sell-through rates. Our increased range of silver and enamel links and studs contains many designs exclusive to Budd, some thoughtfully commissioned by Chris in aid of causes close to our hearts (namely rhinos and elephants, watch this space.....).
KJD has been producing jewellery, badges and medals from the heart of the jewellery district for almost 350 years. A visit to the company’s labyrinthine dye stamp archive is awe-inspiring, with over 750,000 stamps housed on its shelves.
Over the centuries, they have cut dyes for everyone from the Masons and The Rotary club, through to Royal households, the government and even Playboy! Each design is logged in hand-written books, a process of recording that remains unchanged today. It can take up to two and a half weeks to produce and finish the artwork for a dye stamp, each one cut from a steel block. Whilst viewing the intricate work that goes into producing each tiny cufflink or stud is rewarding in itself, so is the insight into the prestigious medals of honour and excellence for nations and organisations across the globe that are cast at the house on a regular basis. During our recent visit, we were lucky enough to see medals of the Victoria Cross and the Order of the British Empire at first hand.
Britain has a habit of downplaying the skills and mastery from within our shores and far too often looks abroad, due to reasons of cost, or simply, a lack of belief and awareness of the ability of own country’s workforce and craftsmanship, much of which is driven by unparalleled heritage.
KJD’s workforce is almost as steeped in experience as it is history. The forty staff have collectively worked for the firm for more than two centuries. When we visited the workshops recently, we were lucky enough to be shown the ropes by dye stamper Arvin, who joined the trade in the early 1970s and who works with the prowess and ease that comes with four decades of experience.
The workmanship and procedures that go into producing each miniature have evolved little over the years, although thankfully, things have moved on dramatically since the hair-raising drop-hanger punching techniques of yesteryear. Historically, a large multi-tonne weight was pulled up by a cantilever rope, only to free-fall on to its target with alarming speed and strength. We were privileged to be given a demonstration of this technique when we visited KJD, but felt much more at ease when we watched the more sophisticated and mechanical twenty-tonne press of today being put into action. The tonnage of the stamp press can be manually set in accordance with the metal being worked upon; silver being the most responsive of all. Other metals are worked with should necessity demand, with gold and platinum (although platinum responds poorly) regularly passing through the workrooms. Seeing the stamp press reset and calibrated for this is fascinating and fairly sobering when you estimate the value of the metals. Fortunately, should anything go awry, they can always be melted down and recast.
Once a link or stud has been pressed and cut from its metal sheet, it passes into the hands of the company’s enamel artists, who meticulously hand fill each piece, mixing ground glass powder with water to achieve shades chosen bespoke to the customer. The technique used for blending colours and the kaleidoscopic range on offer means that colours are unique and the scope for creating truly individual pieces, vast. Budd’s own staff members Christopher and Greg tried their hand to the task during their visit and were overwhelmed by the concentration and steadiness required to infill each colour. Humbled by their own experience, let’s just say our nonchalance at casually ordering cufflinks has changed fairly dramatically. We had never previously given much consideration to this intricate work, simply appreciating the finished product for its richness of tone, design and handle.
Subsequent to enamelling, pieces are fired up and the colours set. A quick file and polish bring you to the almost finished product, before soldering of the chain link and a final buff make up the final stages of the process, before the finished links and studs are delivered to the shop in London.
Our links combine geometric prints, animal motifs and our soon to arrive (pre-Christmas, we promise) diced check, coordinated and idealised to work perfectly with our shirt and tie collection. Our cloisonne sunburst dress sets have a timeless and elegant style that will see you through from day to night. Worn with a day or more formal dress shirt, their subtle yet lustrous quality will make them a wardrobe staple.
Restaurateur, Juan Santa Cruz, wearing our Sunburst Cloisonné Cufflinks in White.