Asprey silver smithing london
While there are many workrooms in central London dedicated to menswear, most of them are given over to tailoring, or occasionally shoemaking. There are a handful of leather factories in east and north London, such as RJ Simpson and Dunhill, and some jewellery is still made on the premises around Mayfair. But Asprey is unique in having leather, silver, engraving and jewellery workshops on site.

I’ve known various people at Asprey over the years, but hadn’t actually visited the workshop until a couple of weeks ago. It is a wonderful warren of rooms, stairs and corridors, connecting up the backs of several old houses. Like the French tailors, walls have been knocked through and sections connected up over the years, to make space for everyone.

 Asprey gem setting Asprey shop London

The leather workshop has five people, largely working on design, prototypes and bespoke pieces. Jewellery is next door, where four people were carefully setting stones and creating designs for wedding rings (pictured above). Silver is a big, noisy workshop, with separate rooms for making, polishing and smithing in coal-based furnaces (top).

The engraver, finally, has his own room, set apart from the noise and clatter of the silver. He’s the guy you see on TV engraving the winning name on the FA Cup, or similar trophy; he needs steady hands and a calm environment (pictured below). 

Asprey silver engraving Asprey crompton

The advantage of this set-up is that customers can personally see both designers and craftspeople from different departments. If you were lucky enough to be commissioning a silver hip flask, for example, you could discuss it with the head of silver design, who would confer with the workshop on certain technical points; you could talk to the equivalent in leather about the bespoke box that would encase it; and finally, the engraver would come down and sketch out some ideas for what could adorn the outside. That’s quite an experience, available any time in the centre of Mayfair.

For most of us, it lends a touch of authenticity to Asprey’s work. Even though the leather is not made on site, for example, this is not just a luxury brand stamping its name on a range of standard accessories.

  Asprey silver egg cupAsprey silver trophy london

Finally, a few interesting craft points:

  • The key to spotting hand-engraving is the depth of the incisions. Hand engraving cuts a slice out of the metal; machines just move it around, and so never go as deep. 
  • The most important person in the silver workshop is the polisher. Without good finishing, all quality to the silver is lost.
  • 3D printing is being used increasingly in jewellery, but not to produce final pieces. Instead, it is used to create physical prototypes of bespoke designs – they’re easier for customers to see and approve than CAD designs 

Photos: Luke Carby

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Thoroughly enjoyed the Asprey tour and would love to visit in person and possibly commission my own flask : )
I have a couple of the Asprey crystal decanters (with the Fox and Badger head silver stoppers) and having worked as an amateur gold and silver smith I can state that they are extremely beautiful works of art.
There are two minor corrections I would like to offer in regards to the article. One, the ‘coal furnace’ you mentioned in the first photo is actually a solder station as you can see the acetylene torch preparing to solder. Two, and this may be more a matter of semantics but imo the finisher is actually the most important as without the proper sanding steps (finer and finer grit emery paper) a polisher can do little to hide scratches.

Yu Zhang

Hi, Simon
I have read the article you posted on the rake online-Kingsman: The Secret Service.
May I know which tailor shop or who did those beautiful garments for the film?


Hello Simon,

I was going through your archived work, as I tend to do, and came across this line, written with regard to a Cifonelli DB sportcoat:

First, a double-breasted jacket in a blue silk mix that uses separately cut pieces for the lapels in order to get an exaggerated curve. Being separate pieces, they can be cut on the bias of the cloth and so be worked into a broader sweep up the chest. That, combined with the bottom buttoning point, produces a larger opening to show off shirt and tie, and a rakish overall appearance.

My question for you is this: would asking a different tailor to attempt such a form of construction be a mistake, or is this, in reality, easily done on any jacket?

Kind regards


Hi Simon

You are doing it again – wearing items that you tell us nothing about!

The shirt in this photograph looks very interesting, despite it being in back and white. It looks casual yet smart and i am curious what it is. Can you elaborate please.

Lindsay McKee

I can remember being in Asprey on my first visit to London in March 1986. Very different then. Asprey was still in its original prime glory and probably the most expensive store in London. Malachite and Lapiz Lazuli jewellery boxes to give one example.
Bond Street had old original and beautiful small shops, Cork Street Art Galleries, loads of proper tailors in Savile Row and the adjoining streets.
Swaine Adeney Brigg was the real deal with exquisite leather goods and umbrellas from its original Piccadilly Street shop.
Burlington Arcade had Underwood leather goods. Pickett is still around.
The list goes on.