Sparkle among the hedgerows - County Equestrian Jewellers
When you’re a fan of all things equestrian, it’s almost impossible to resist the lure of jewellery that reflects your passion. In an increasingly crowded equestrian/country-themed jewellery market, one maker stood out to us at The Finer Horse...
Based in Worcestershire, County Equestrian Jewellers is owned and run by Chris Stead (ably assisted by his partner Christina), who started the business with his late father to supply major British retailers with more run-of-the-mill jewellery before this work was outsourced to India. Living on a smallholding with horses inspired a change of direction and the first piece created was a classic snaffle bracelet. Such was the demand around the local area that Chris and his father soon realised they were onto a winner, and County Equestrian Jewellers as we know it was born.
Unusually for a jewellery brand, everything County Equestrian Jewellers makes is very much inspired by, and designed to be worn in, the countryside. When creating a new design, Chris is very conscious of where the item might be worn, be that on the hunting field, at a ball, in the shooting butts or at the office. We love the versatility and durability of the designs on offer, and there are some clever and unusual items (a Liverpool driving bit necklace anyone?) for those after something a little different from what’s available elsewhere.
Adding to the unique feel, each piece is handmade by Chris in his garden using the ‘lost wax’ method, an ancient technique where a clay mould is created from an original wax model. When heated, the wax melts away leaving the hardened mould ready to have molten metal – the customer’s choice of sterling silver, 9ct or 18ct gold, rose gold or white gold – poured into it to create the piece of jewellery. Chris then uses his skills and experience to fully finish the item, including filing away any rough bits left from the casting process and polishing the finished piece to the perfect shine. In our mass-produced era it’s a rare delight to find jewellery made this way and it’s something County Equestrian Jewellers’ customers love being able to ask Chris about.
The unique factor doesn’t end there, as many items can now be further personalised by adding in precious gemstones, in effect creating a bespoke piece of jewellery. Chris is able to add in stones such as rubies or sapphires upon request, giving glittering eyes to all the animals and bringing some sparkle to the range of cartridge jewellery.
In a crowded field of beautiful jewellery, there were a few standouts that we felt were worth some special attention. The first is something for us polo fans to enjoy. Although there are a few companies offering bangles in the shape of a polo mallet, this version (available in several sizes) from County Equestrian Jewellers just oozes quality, and would work equally well as a statement piece worn on its own or as part of a group of other bracelets. We’d pair the silver version with other silver bracelets, such as a plain bangle and perhaps a couple of more delicate silver chain bracelets. We tried the polo mallet bracelet for ourselves at this year’s Game Fair and are the first to admit it was very hard to hand it back!
As we head towards hunting season we love these adorable fox head earrings. Being practical stud earrings they’re perfect for riding to hounds in, as well as providing something a little different for the days when we can only dream of the open air. Lovers of sparkle can also make these even more special, with either diamonds, rubies or sapphires available for the foxes' eyes.
Lastly, for something really striking, we just had to feature this farrier’s nail ring. This ring has everything, a sleek modern look that makes a statement while also giving a subtle nod to the noble traditions of farriery and our rural heritage. The design even makes a clever reference to the Juste un Clou collection by Cartier, which uses the shape of an ordinary nail in much the same way as County Equestrian Jewellers does here with the farrier’s nail.
So where can you see Chris and his beautiful designs next? Country Equestrian Jewellers will be at both the Horse of the Year Show (4th-8th October) and Your Horse Live (11th-12th November) – look out for the crowds around their stand!