I love roses and flowers jewellery especially the vintage range produced by Exquisite of Birmingham. They are so ideal for Mother’s Day and are an everlasting treat. So here are just a few of our floral rose jewellery – all by Exquisite for you to see. Some are still available to buy on Jewels and Finery. But as usual we will show case any of the Exquisite costume florals as we source and photograph here. So please book mark and spread the word.
A very stylish gold brooch – costume jewellery by Exquisite. Circa 1960s to 1970s.
A silver marcasite brooch by Exquisite – a bunch of flowers forever. 1960s.
Who needs a bunch of red roses for Mothers Day when you have this beautiful selection that have stood the test of time. Red rose brooch – 1970s.
Another silver flower bunch brooch by Exquisite. All tied up with it recognizable bow.
The rose bar jewellery can be found in different colors. This one above is in pink, but we do have a turquoise one also. Then below the bar brooch is a textured rose by Exquisite also. Large in size and circa 1970s.
Another rose Exquisite brooch in an all textured silver tone this time.
This is just a small example of the jewellery that is suitable as a mother’s Day gift. Just go to our main website and search “Exquisite” for all that we have available at the moment.
Exquisite loved leaf jewellery. In their long history, they produced so many different versions of their jewelry leaves in large and small leaf brooches and earrings. This jewellery blog has some original information leaflets. We are also photographing and showing all the leaf jewellery for your pleasure and ongoing research.
The Exquisite company produced leaves in Vine, Beech, Horse Chestnut, Elm, Ivy, Cherry, Hazel, Pine, Mour ‘N Ash, Oak, Mulberry and lastly Sycamore. They used a variety of finishes from hand painted enamel, gold, silver in a plain tone or textured and many different designs.
The above is a cherry tree leaf brooch by Exquisite in an all textured gold tone. This design can be found in a variety of finished and colors making it ideal to collect. It is also in a large and small size and matching earring clips can be found still.
Above are the vintage cherry leaf earrings – clip style to match the enamel cherry leaf brooches.
Sycamore jewellery or also know as a leaf from the helicopter tree. Throw the seeds in the air and watch them twirl down to the ground. This Sycamore leaf brooch is hand enameled. So you will find different color tones and looks. Again in a large and small size with matching earrings to be found.
Another version of the Sycamore from Exquisite in an all textured gold tone and a smaller size.
Now this large leaf is we think from an Elm tree sprig below with the colorful distinct seeds – but we have been wrong before.
This may be a Mulberry leaf as the shape is very similar. It is an unusual brooch in a cream enamel with raised gold textured edging.
The horse chestnut brooch or conker as more known. Beautifully enameled by hand is the one above. Again found in all sort of finishes.
Or jewellery blogs are ongoing and we add more as we have sourced and photographed it.
Exquisite Jewellery history of the UK company W.A.P. Watson Ltd from Solihull.
Since 2008, when I first started selling on Jewels & Finery, I have been researching Exquisite jewellery. Over the years I have found many beautiful and not so beautiful brooches, earrings, bracelets and necklaces that were made by the Exquisite factory. As we live within walking distance from the site where the factory once stood. It means that we often come across Exquisite pieces.
This research will continue as I am well placed in Solihull to see what I can find about the company and their many ranges.
So for those that have missed my various blog posts and articles scattered across the internet. This is the Exquiste jewellery background and a small amount of information on the jewellery ranges that I have discovered so far.
At the end of Queen Victoria’s era, a jeweler named Walter Archibald Parker Watson (1880 -1952) established a factory in the famous Jewellery Quarter in Hockley Birmingham. However in 1914 at the onset of World war One, he sold his business to Augustus Harry Power (1878 -1952) and Clarence Oswald Flint (1880 – 1946) This two men kept his name – W.A.P. Watson and eventually became a limited company.
It has fascinated me on why did they keep the founders name? Was it because the business had a good reputation and was well established? Did W.A.P. Watson have shares in the business and it was part of the agreed sale? Were they very good friends; and was it in respect for Walter, who enlisted in the 1st/5th Battalion of the Royal Warwick Regiment as a second Lieutenant? He enlisted in 1915 and rose to captain before being injured and invalid out of the army in 1923.
Why they kept the name? – this I have yet to find out. By the time of Clarence’ death in 1946, he appears to have already left the company – although he still retained very good friendship with Augustus Power’s son.
To continue with the growth of the company. In the first instance the partners came from very different backgrounds.
Augustus Harry Power an engraver by trade came from a family of gun makers that lived in Moseley, Birmingham. He had traveled to London to work and gain experience initially. By 1906 he had a thriving business with warehouse space in Whittall Street in Birmingham. In 1911 he is listed as a gun engraver on the census, along with his brother Richard aslo a gun engraver. Still in 1912 he had a warehouse in Whittall street and lived in the Kings Heath area of Birmingham.
Clarence Oswald Power was once a clerk who’s family were auctioneers and estate agents. They lived in Edgbaston, Birmingham along the Hagley Road, then moved to Bearwood by 1911 and was then a jeweler and manager. This smattering of information has been gained from the census of 1901, 1891, 1911 and 1881.
It is a strange feeling that my own ancestors were a long line of gun engravers and masters in their trade. They also lived and worked in both the areas that these two were. So it is very possible that they were known to each other??
W.A.P. Watson was a small company to start, with only 6 people employed. From 1914 they were manufacturing costume jewelry. However during the first and second world wars they would have been employed to aid the war effort.
In 1920 they had premises in Augusta Street in the St Paul’s ward, Birmingham. It looks as though they shared the large factory area with at least 4 other businesses.
The trade name of Exquisite was introduced to foster customer loyalty. The signature on the jewellery was introduced in the mid 1950s and continued until they stopped manufacturing in the late 1970s. This means that there is quite a lot of unsigned exquisite jewellery pre 1950s that was manufactured. Before they moved to Solihull, the company manufactured for other sellers wholesale. After moving they used the name Exquisite exclusively for their own range that they sold direct to shops. I have also seen unsigned jewellery from the 1950s onwards that looks to be Exquisite – as they match signed pieces. This is because some ranges did not have any signatures, especially pieces that were popular and so had more than one manufacturing run.
With their business expanding WAP Watson Ltd moved at least three times in the UK. From their original premises in Northampton Street, a small side street in the Jewellery Quarter to Great Hampton Street, a main road in the Jewellery Quarter. At this point, they employed 125 people. Along side costume jewellery, they manufactured crested souvenirs and had another premises in nearby Mary Street. With the growing success of the jewellery and souvenirs, a larger business site was needed. The jewellery quarter and the centre of Birmingham was (and still is!) very congested. So in 1954, WAP watson Ltd moved to a 3 acres site in Vulcan Road, Solihull.
The company remained a family business with Wallis and Jack Power, the sons of Augustus becoming Managing Directors. In the seventies Graham Hughes became an associate and took over the companies expansion.
Production of the Exquisite jewellery, Mirella range and souvenirs continued for the next 20 years, until the seventies. The factory was producing around 20,000 pieces of jewellery per week during this period. The second largest manufacturer of costume jewellery in the UK – I have guessed that the first would have been Coro, the US company based in Sussex.
With the influx of cheap imported jewellery, mainly from Hong Kong. The costume jewellery sales fell and so the Exquiste line ceased in the late seventies. From the Solihull factory, the souvenir range expanded and also a range in the trade name of “Mirella” general gift ware of mirrors, picture frames, pill boxes and pens. With the loss of jewellery sales and the last recession, the company survived by reducing employees and by the increased demand for souvenirs. Along with the souvenirs such as spoons, thimbles, bells and letter openers. They produced a range of leather crafted souvenirs trading as “Manor”
It was in the mid to late seventies that I started to collect spoons. My penfriend had come to stay from America and she collected thimbles from all the places that we visited. So I started to collect spoons, this has grown over the years to a collection of hundreds. I no longer can display them all and they languish in boxes! But I still collect the odd one or two – but now they must be quite special.
During the late seventies to eighties, the company started to produce pewter Victorian street scenes, and the brand “Tudor Mint” was born. The “Crystal flame” range followed with animals of silver and gilt plated with crystal. Then then in 1989 the “Myths and Magic” range, which allowed the company to once more flourish. the medieval figures and dragons were an instant success and so the company opened a subsidiary in Houston Texas in 1995 and moved to Florida in 1997. It was in the late nineties or early 2000’s that the Solihull factory closed.
Since then in 2007 the brand of Tudor Mint has been sold to the group Xystos. Xystos is known for its ranges of “Forever Friends” “John Beswick”, “Enchantica” and “Piggin” to name a few brands.
Back to Exquisite jewellery.
I have started to identify the ranges of jewellery. The most easy one is the Birthday range. Available in small and large sized brooches and having matching clip earrings, necklaces and rarer bracelets. The range is all hand painted enamel, so there are many tone varieties and slightly different colour combinations available
January – snowdrop
February – primrose
March – violets
April – iris
May – pansy
June – rose
July – fuschia
August – poppy
September – cornflower
October – carnation
November – chrysanthemum
December – Christmas rose or helleborus niger.
Below are some of the Birthday jewellery:
February – the primrose above.March birthday jewellery – the purple viola brooch – this can be found in different color tone due to the enamel being hand painted.
The Fuchsia for July.
The Exquisite jewellery designers were said to be based in Paris – some of their 1960s pieces do have a look of a designer with European flare. But most of the jewellery appears to me to be very British and much of the jewellery was fashioned to the flora of the UK.
If you have any information about Exquisite or WAP Watson, I would love to hear from you. Just drop us an email.
Below are the photographs of Exquisite jewellery we have found.
Unsigned Exquisite jewellery:
The above photographs shows an amber glass brooch which is by Exquisite. Other brooches the same are signed and it comes in a variety of colored glass. I believe there are matching earrings also made.
Signed Exquisite jewelelry – Abalone brooch circa late sixties to seventies.
Abalone with the simple silver polished edging that was very modern appeared in the late sixties and seventies and was available in brooches, necklaces, scarf clips and rings.
The above poodle dog pot is signed Mirella and below is the signature used in script with no copy right symbol.
Exquisite loved their conker jewellery and it came in all sorts of finishes.
Travel souvenirs were big business for Exquisite. This charm above on its original packaging is of silver. The charm is only marked silver not Exquisite.
Now this glasses brooch is a classic made by WAP Watson and found with the Exquisite signature, the Mirella signature and also unsigned. Also will be in different finishes. this one has tiny faux pearl and turquoise bead decoration.
WAP Watson also produced bone china in this travel thimble. The plaque was also used for spoons, bells and other small ornaments.
The above cross Exquisite necklaces were in Art Glass both different colors. one of green and the other brown – rare to find.
As usual we will be adding to this blog as we photograph more fabulous Exquisite jewellery to showcase and to sell.