C W Sellors and Chatsworth House: A Relationship Built from Blue John

The House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion event at Chatsworth House promises to be one of the most incredible fashion exhibitions ever. With a huge range of apparel and jewellery, dating back hundreds of years, the event which starts March 25th offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly see how fashion has evolved over the years. As major sponsors to the event, C W Sellors Fine Jewellery has been busy creating all manner of jewellery for display at the event.

However, the rich relationship between C W Sellors and Chatsworth House dates back to before House Style. The jewellers have been supplying a selection of jewellery, made from one of the Earth’s rarest minerals for more than 30 years.

Blue John, also referred to as the Derbyshire Spa, is only known to be found in the hills of Castleton; coincidentally, just above Chatsworth. A passion and fascination for Blue John has long been held by the Devonshire family at Chatsworth. Georgina Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806) used to collect Blue John, and in 1842, her husband William, the 5th Duke, commissioned the Tazza, one of the largest objects ever made from Blue John, measuring 20 inches (51cms) in diameter.

The Tazza, one of the largest  objects ever made from Blue John

For C W Sellors, The Devonshire family was one of their first customers for the early Jewellery Blue John designs of Chris Sellors, and the family have regularly commissioned the talented silversmiths and gemstone cutters to create designs ever since.

In 1988 Deborah Cavendish, the then Duchess of Devonshire, opened the new purpose built premises for Chris Sellors on King Street, Ashbourne, with a workshop for five craftsmen. Still based at the King Street address, the company has since gone from strength to strength, and is now providing the Blue John jewellery to clients across the globe.

Given C W Sellors’ reputation for fine jewellery, and the special relationship it enjoys with the Devonshires, it was no surprise when Chatsworth approached Chris Sellors to recreate some precious jewellery items retrieved from the family vaults for their new exhibition ‘House Style’ - Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth. 

One of the main features of the exhibition is the magnificent costume with an elaborate headdress, created for Louisa, Duchess of Devonshire which she wore in a lavish ball held at Devonshire House in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.  It consists of pearls, amethyst and, of course, Blue John set into intricate metalwork settings.

Work in Progress: The  headdress, created for Louisa, Duchess of Devonshire

Paul Barker, Workshop Manager at C W Sellors, said: “It is always a great experience and privilege to bring to life a concept for a client.

“With the historical reference of this piece, this also allowed us to indulge our own interests and passions for historical jewellery pieces and traditional jewellery techniques.”

Click here to see the full range of C W Sellors Blue John Jewellery.