We are a small jewelry company in the heart of Newport, RI where
we still make jewelry with our hands, hearts and minds.
Founder James Breakell's career as a silversmith began with an apprenticeship in Newport, Rhode Island, home of traditional craftsmen since colonial times. He worked in a small shop specializing in the restoration of antique silver pieces-some of them made by Newport's own smiths centuries. His interest soon turned to creating his own designs. In 1972 he opened his first shop and began making one of-a-kind pieces.
Joan Breakell joined the company when she married Jim in 1980. They outgrew a series of workshops as designs caught on. At one point, they worked out of their basement, but it became clear that wouldn't work for long. Today their work is carried on by a group of talented and specially trained silversmiths in the workshop in the heart of historic Newport. The skills they perfected in those early years are used every day to produce a rich collection of silver and gold designs inspired by nature and New England's storied maritime heritage.
While we design and produce all of the jewelry in their Newport workshop, we also feature several other local designers' work with the maker's name noted.
Many of our pieces use the lost wax casting method, a technique that has been in use for thousands of years. In this process an original carving is made in metal or hard wax. A rubber mold is made of the carving and molten wax is injected into the mold to make a perfect wax replica. These wax replicas are then arranged on a central was core to make a "tree" which is then immersed in a plaster-like material. The hardened plaster casing is heated over a long period at high temperatures until the wax inside vaporizes. What's left is a hollow plaster-like mold into which molten silver or gold is poured. Once the metal cools, the mold is broken open to release the metal piece. A new wax replica must be made for each piece we cast.
While many of our designs are created in this way, others, like the Hammered Cuff and Married Metal Bracelets, our Baby Spoon and the Byzantine Chain Bracelet are cut, hammered, forged and formed entirely by hand. Every piece is carefully polished by hand-we never use plating or lacquer.
Our work has been worn by Rhode Island's Governors for ceremonial occasions. It has been featured in a New Yorker Magazine cartoon and articles in fashion and industry publications. One of our proudest achievements is a spot in the National Archives for the Broccoli Pin that Jim Breakell designed and made. We sent it as a gift to First Lady Barbara Bush after President George H.W. Bush banned broccoli from the White House menu. We also sent one to the Clintons and the Gores, who wrote to thank us and let us know they were broccoli fans, during the 1992 presidential campaign.
As islanders, we are intensely aware of the importance of environmental sustainability in business and personal decisions. Though EPA regulations forbid many of the most harmful practices in mining and metal refining, we do our best to further minimize impact on the environment by reusing and repurposing material wherever possible. J.H. Breakell & Co also contributes annually to local environmental groups and organizations promoting an end to hunger and domestic violence.
Visit Our Newport Store
See our designs in person at
132 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02840.
Open year 'round Monday through Saturday 9-5, Sunday 12-5.