Jewellery has been the lifeblood of the Ogden family for four generations. James R. Ogden opened the first Ogden family jewellery shop in 1893 in Harrogate. A master jeweller and watch specialist, he soon established the Ogden tradition of expert customer relations and his “Little Diamond Shop” fast grew popular with illustrious clients (including Prince George, later Duke of Kent) who visited during the Harrogate Season. In his spare time, James corresponded with two of the then leading figures of international archaeology, Howard Carter and Sir Leonard Woolley. He helped restore various ancient gold objects, which now contribute to treasured collections in museums across Europe and America, and he became Advising Goldsmith to the British Museum.
In 1925, James’s eldest son William opened a shop in King Street, St James’s, London, selling pieces with a family or dynastic history. Many of them came from royals or were sold to royals and included Queen Isabella of Spain’s black pearls and the emerald necklace of the Empress Eugenie. According to a 1930s portrait published by The Bystander, he was “more discreet than any banker” – the so-called “important pieces” mostly changed hands in the oak-panelled private rooms over his shop in King Street.
William had one son, Richard, who, after the war, continued the family tradition of dealing in fine antique jewellery. He was a pioneer in every sense and quickly gained international renown and a client list which included such legends as Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Ringo Starr, Ingrid Bergman and, more recently, Madonna. Richard Ogden created exciting new designs, such as his famous Twinset engagement ring and wedding ring, which earned him a De Beers International Award in the 1970s. Following Richard’s death in 2005, he was succeeded by his eldest son Robert, a trained designer craftsman and an expert in diamonds and unusual precious gems. Until recently, Robert frequently broadcast on LBC radio, dating and identifying the listeners’ jewellery from their description.
In the 1960s the lower ground floor of the current premises were converted into the Ring Room. This showroom has recently been refurbished to accommodate a series of fine jewellery exhibitions alongside its more traditional role.