House of Benney

The founder of the House of Benney, Gerald, was one of the leading talents driving the heady renaissance of British design in the wake of World War II. The United Kingdom was a crucible for creative maestros like him, whose styles would become world-famous. Gerald reinvented the ancient craft of goldsmithing, just as peers like Terence Conran, David Mellor or Robin and Lucienne Day transformed furniture or graphic design.

Drawing on the minimalism of Scandinavian design, and combining its clean-lined esthetic with a joyous celebration of luxury, Gerald Benney was widely feted for his skills with gold and silver soon after graduating from London’s prestigious Royal College of Art. His first landmark achievement was developing the Benney bark finish, a signature technique that would establish the House of Benney as an icon of modern design.

Gerald wasn’t satisfied simply to enjoy the renown he had earned. Rather, he readied to master an entirely new skill: enameling. Though the craft was a storied one, it had deteriorated in reputation and practice since its apogee in the hands of Carl Fabergé. Ever determined, Gerald took a circuitous route to find a solution. On a trip to Switzerland, a local jeweler recommended a craftsman to him in Norway. That man, already in his dotage, had a direct line to the Fabergé workshop.

Gerald brought the maestro to England, and set about learning this precision skill. Of course, he was a naturally gifted enameler, and was soon adapting these techniques for larger surfaces and more modern designs. He also explored the interplay between enameling and his own bark finish, discovering how pleasingly such texturing enhanced the luster and brilliance of the colored glass.

In the early 1990s, Gerald Benney deeded the House of Benney to the youngest of his four children, Simon, himself a world-renowned silversmith. Simon Benney has maintained and expanded the reputation of his family’s house for more than twenty years, refining its exquisite pieces in enamel while trailing new lines – notably, jewelry. Though his father produced a small amount of silver and gold earrings and rings, Simon’s reputation for such detailed handwork has helped the House of Benney earn yet more honors, this time as one of the most prestigious luxury jewelers in the world.