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History

Whitehouse Brothers History

Hand-Crafting Fine Filigree for over 100 years

In the late 19th Century, Cincinnati was a bustling industrial landscape. Strategically located on the Ohio River, Cincinnati was the gateway to the South and West.

From this time period grew a jewelry manufacturing renaissance, fueled by classically trained German jewelry artisans who came to Cincinnati with the promise of employment with the finest manufacturers in America. Cincinnati became known as “The Jewelry City.”

Whitehouse Brothers was founded in 1898 by Joseph C. and William H. Whitehouse. The brothers quickly developed a reputation for manufacturing finely designed and handcrafted platinum jewelry.

 

By the early 1920s, Whitehouse Brothers had grown to become the largest jewelry manufacturer in America, employing more than 100 craftsmen. Among those employed were designers of precious metal jewelry, who were being classically trained in Cincinnati as metal sculptors.

Whitehouse Brothers offered to undertake the training of wounded soldiers returning from World War I. The veterans were trained in the manufacture of jewelry for six months so they could find new work in the industrial world.

Everything at Whitehouse Brothers is built by our workers in the United States -- nothing is ever outsourced. We also use 100% recycled metal and responsibly sourced diamonds.


Frederick William Kolde

Whitehouse Brothers’ most well-known craftsman was Frederick William Kolde. Frederick was born in 1870. At 15, he started designing in Breslau, Germany. He came to Cincinnati in his early years and remained employed at Whitehouse Brothers as a designer and jeweler for nearly 50 years, until he retired at age 80.

Frederick designed some of the filigree mountings that are still available in the Whitehouse Brothers catalogue. The timeless styles are sculptures reflecting Frederick’s years of drawing, painting, metal working and his perception of the world.

Frederick studied art at the Art Academy under famed Cincinnati artists Frank Duveneck and Vincent Nowottny.

One example of his work, style #8136, was designed to commemorate the return of Halley’s comet in 1910. Other styles created by Frederick include Victorian, Floral, and Naturalistic.

Frederick also created ecclesiastic metal work for many churches in the Cincinnati area and is known in the art world as a landscape painter. His paintings often featured floral and naturalistic subjects.

 

Platinum

In the early 20th century, platinum was an unpopular choice for many jewelry manufacturers because of its complicated workability. Whitehouse Brothers’ master platinum craftsmen had developed processes for manufacturing platinum, achieving a superior product compared to gold.

To promote the use of platinum, Whitehouse Brothers developed a five-part series to be printed in the Jeweler’s Circular-Keystone (JCK). In 1919, Whitehouse Brothers released a series of ads known as “The Romance of Platinum.” The ads referenced Don Antonio de Ulloa, who in 1335 gave Europe its first knowledge of platinum. Ulloa was shown in the ads explaining platinum to a group of royals. The ads were praised for using the history of the basic material to interested customers.

Throughout its history, Whitehouse Brothers has focused on building quality jewelry based on fine designs. Platinum has allowed not only the craft of fine detail but of lasting perfection. Platinum is the king among metals, allowing the craftsman’s hands to raise it to the plane of the jewel itself. It becomes more than a mere setting. It is an essential part of a real masterwork of artisanship.

 

Many Whitehouse Brothers designs crafted in the early 20th century are available today, including the Colonial Wedding band, The Heart of the Vineyard and The Whitehouse.

 

Our goal at Whitehouse Brothers is to create future family heirlooms that can easily be passed down from generation to generation because of their quality and timeless designs.