An Afternoon with London’s Oldest Gemcutters

I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with John and Peter of Chas Matthews Ltd in December of 2018. They were kind enough to let me come in and pick their brains for a few hours and take photos and videos of everything in their studio. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting cutters from such a distinctly different cutting generation than the one I came up in. Their ideas are old fashioned, yet time tested and it was very hard to leave when the time came. Their acquired wisdom oozed out with every story they told me and I wish I would have had time to absorb more. If I lived in London I would sign up to be their apprentice in an instant but sadly we live a world apart.

By some strange coincidence, a few weeks after returning from London a friend showed me this article and I read it with intrigue. It was well written and echoed many of the sentiments that these master cutters expressed to me when I visited them. I figured out that the article was written by Al Gilbertson who I knew from his great book American Cut — the First 100 Years. I contacted him to find out more about the article and he told me he had written it exactly 10 years before my visit but for one reason or another, it had never gotten published. I thank Al for writing such a thorough article with so many historically important details and of course thanks for letting me publish it here. — Justin

Scroll to Top