HISTORY

 

Its origins in the city of Porto in the late eighteenth century, Casa Leitão & Irmão became the epitome of Jewellery on being appointed Goldsmith of the Imperial House of Brazil by Pedro II, emperor of Brazil, in 1873, and Jewellers of the Portuguese Crown by Luís I, king of Portugal, in 1887.

The title of Jewellers of the Crown led Casa Leitão to move from Porto to Lisbon to be near the Court, where it set up a “modern” goldsmithery. It has been in operation to this day.

With shops in Lisbon and Estoril – Chiado, Bairro Alto, Hotel Ritz and Casino Estoril Gardens – Casa Leitão represents modernity, character and quality in Jewellery, incorporating into traditional production processes the most up-to-date design and manufacturing techniques.

Casa Leitão is also noted for the manufacture of tailor-made, personalised pieces, including engagement rings, jewellery, cutlery, tableware and other articles, as well as their maintenance and restoration.

These services, carried out by the workshop’s team of professionals whose knowledge is handed down from generation to generation each with their own character, are the distinguishing factor of Casa Leitão.

LEITÃO & IRMÃO TIMELINE

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1786 – JOSÉ TEIXEIRA DA TRINDADE

José Teixeira da Trindade is born in the city of Porto. He became a prominent citizen linked to trade with Brazil and gold business. He kept close links with the goldsmithery industry.Maria Delfina, his only daughter, married José Pinto Leitão.

1822 – VERNACULAR JEWELLERY

José Pinto Leitão registers the “JPL” hallmark and opens his business at Rua das Flores, the classic goldsmiths’ street in Porto.”… The type of establishment in those days was that of a shop-workshop, where the craftsman worked in sight of the customers, beside the sales counter.The typical articles that were produced were the ‘heart’, the earring, the cordon, items that in the north were worn on feast-days, at sung mass, at popular festivals … “

.
.

1837 – MARRIAGE

Marriage of José Pinto Leitão to Maria Delfina, daughter of José Teixeira da Trindade. This marriage played a fundamental role in the development of the House of Leitão.

1866 – EUROPE

The house makes its mark in the country. Narciso and Olindo, sons of the founder, lend continuity to the family business and take the name Leitão & Irmão. They modernise production, bringing in new materials, and investing in machinery. They extend the business abroad, setting up branches in Paris and London, building up an important network of contacts.

.
.

1872 – BRAZIL

Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, grants Leitão & Irmão the title of “Goldsmiths of the Imperial House of Brazil”. The link between the Crown and the House of Leitão dates back to siege of Porto (1832/1833), where José Teixeira da Trindade establishes special relations with king Pedro IV of Portugal, who was also Pedro I of Brazil.

1877 – LISBON

Opening of the shop in the cosmopolitan Chiado district in Lisbon. Leitão & Irmão, with brothers Narciso and José, carry on the business in the capital of the kingdom benefiting from the proximity of the court. During this period, they undertake the artistic project to restore the traditions of Portuguese goldsmithery, marking the renewal of the craft in the second half of the nineteenth century.

.
.

1886 – QUEEN AMÉLIA OF PORTUGAL

Jewels offered by the Portuguese royal family to princess Amélia of Orleans on the occasion of her marriage to Carlos, future king of Portugal. The set consisted of a diadem of brilliants offered by king Luís, a necklace of brilliants, by queen Maria Pia, a necklace of brilliants and sapphires chosen by prince Carlos, a pair of tortoise-shell, gold and brilliants binoculars by prince Afonso and a diamond brooch by prince Augusto. Of these jewels, the diamond diadem stands out, used in 1995 by Isabel on the occasion of her marriage to prince Duarte of Braganza.

1887 – L&I HALLMARK

The Leitão & Irmão manufacturing mark is registered with the Lisbon assay office, the oldest still extant in Portugal, instituted in 1887. Consisting of the female figure of a sphinx crowned by the letter “L”, it is still in use today.

.
.

1887 – EMPEROR WILHELM I OF GERMANY

Sword of honour in gold, precious stones and enamel, a gift by Luís, King of Portugal, to Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany, on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday.

1887 – CROWN JEWELLERS

On December 1st, king Luís grants to Leitão & Irmão the title of “Crown Jewellers”. Leitão & Irmão continued to be chosen by the Royal family to create gifts for family, friends and personalities. Queen Maria Pia was also an enthusiastic and loyal customer. She played a decisive role in the acquisition of numerous utilities and decorative objects in silver and gold, mostly of great refinement and sobriety, revealing a preference for the neo-rocaille taste.

.
.

1888 – THE VATICAN

Chalice offered by king Luís to Pope Leo XIII, to commemorate His Jubilee in 1888. As a particular sign of pleasure, Pope Leo XIII celebrated the Jubilee mass with the chalice offered by the king of Portugal.

1889 – INDUSTRIAL RENEWAL

Opening of the new, modern workshops in Lisbon, in the Bairro Alto district, to accommodate the various arts and crafts related to the design and manufacture of goldsmithery and jewellery.

.
.

1898 – SEA ROUTE TO INDIA

Commemorative Medal of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Vasco da Gama in India.

1900 – ART

The Barahona Silverware, considered a masterpiece of Portuguese goldsmithery. The design and modelling were entrusted to Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, one of the great artists of the time.

.
.

1907 – AFRICA

Coffer of Citizenship, offered to prince Luís Filipe during the royal journey to the Portuguese colonies of Africa in 1907. It was manufactured in the Bairro Alto workshops by the hands of two Portuguese master silversmiths: João da Silva and Júlio Rodrigues Pinto, head of the workshop. In chased silver and with four ivory tusks on the lid, it rests on four rhinoceroses and has figures of natives along the edges.

1908 – UNITED STATES OF BRAZIL

Brazil Cup, commissioned by king Carlos to offer to the President of the Republic of the United States of Brazil, within the context of the celebrations of the centenary of the Opening of the Brazilian ports to Friendly Nations.

.
.

1913 – MANUEL II OF PORTUGAL

Silver and gold caravel offered by Portuguese monarchists to Manuel II.

1913 – AUGUSTA VICTORIA OF HOHENZOLLERN

Jewellery offered by Portuguese monarchists to princess Augusta Victoria of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen on the occasion of her marriage in Sigmaringen to Manuel II.

.
.

1917 – “BELLE ÉPOQUE”

In the third generation it was Jaime de Castro Leitão who took over the reins of the House. He studied in Paris, where he associated with the great artists of the “Belle Époque”. With René Lalique he designed several pieces, among them a silver cutlery set, registered in 1917, which is still in production today.

1918 – WORLD WAR I

Silver plaque offered by the insurance companies to the Portuguese Navy in recognition of the action of the minesweeper “Augusto de Castilho” in defending the s.s. “São Miguel”.The minesweeper defended the “São Miguel”, confronting the German submarine U-139. The combat lasted two hours and ended with the sinking of the minesweeper, allowing the “São Miguel” to reach the Azores in safety.

.
.

1939 – FOOTBALL

Portugal Cup in chased silver. The cup makes reference to the Discoveries, with chased caravels on various parts of the trophy. Above the caravels the five quinas (or shields) stand out. Over the wings is the armillary sphere, surmounted by the cross of Christ, references to the Portuguese way.

1942 – OUR LADY OF FÁTIMA

Crown of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the most noteworthy Portuguese jewels. Gift of the Portuguese in gratitude for their children have been spared the drama of World War II. The Crown, of gold and precious stones, the result of a national campaign of gifts entrusted to the House of Leitão, was crafted during three months by twelve craftsmen and has 313 pearls and 2679 precious stones set in gold. Almost half a century later, in 1984, this work gained greater consequence when Pope John Paul II offered Our Lady of Fatima the bullet that struck him during the attempt on his life on May 13, 1981, at the Vatican. The bullet fit perfectly in the empty space left in 1942 at the junction of the eight arches that form the crown of a Queen.

.
.

1958 – CHRIST THE KING

Gold liturgical furnishings Inauguration of the Christ the King monument.

1976 – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Plaster model of the gold eagle offered by the Portuguese Republic to the President of the United States of America, on the occasion of the bicentennial of the declaration of independence.

.
.

1981 – ARTISTS

Leitão & Irmão is restructured on the basis of its industrial origin.Inspired by the visit of Pope John Paul II, a start was made, in the Bairro Alto workshop, to work on the crib designed by sculptor Graça Costa Cabral. The sculptress’ strict plastic interpretation, the lustre, the textures and the matrices required a new process that would produce the pieces with no seams, soldering or joints, exactly like the original carved in a single block. The process melded the experience of the craftsmen with avant-garde technology. The first artist’s proofs were offered to Pope John Paul II in 1982, during his first pilgrimage to Fátima.

1983 – DISCOVERIES

Portuguese mariner’s astrolabe (replica) symbol of the 17th Art, Science and Culture Exhibition, based on the original at the Museum of Dundee, Scotland.

.
.

1988 – COLLABORATION WITH UNIVERSITIES

Compass Rose Collection. Recreation in silver and vitreous enamel of the compass roses of Portuguese Cartography of the Fifteen Hundreds, in collaboration with the University of Coimbra.

1993 – URBAN ARCHITECTURE

Silver pillories. Inspired by Portuguese mediaeval urban architecture, the pillories collection was produced with the collaboration of the Portuguese Academy of History.

.
.

1998 – OCEAN VOYAGES

Collection of marine animals in silver. Included in the Lisbon International Exhibition (Expo ’98), which celebrated the oceans, the marine animals collection called “The Great Inhabitants of the oceans” was produced, with the scientific advice of the University of Lisbon, the Guia maritime laboratory and the Musée Océanographique du Monaco.

2000 – JUBILEE

The crib, by sculptor Graça Costa Cabral. Comprising 15 silver figures on a base consisting of five slate plaques, the piece was delivered to Pope John Paul II in Fátima, on the occasion of the Jubilee Year 2000, finalising the work begun in 1981.

.
.

2004 – TABLE ART

The Pedro Leitão Tableware, example of the association between jewellery and established artists, is a new symbol of the present times. At the proposal of gastronome José Bento dos Santos, it was honoured in Paris with the Prix de l’Art de la Table, awarded by the International Academy of Gastronomy.

2004 – LISBON AT THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD

“Rhinocerus 1515” in chased silver. Inspired by the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer, based on the original design by Valentim Fernandes done in Lisbon in 1515. The rhinoceros was offered to king Manuel I of Portugal by the king of Cambay in 1514, having arrived in Lisbon on May 20, 1515 aboard the armed merchantman Nossa Senhora da Ajuda after crossing the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

.
.

2005 – COSMOPOLITAN CHIADO

Reopening of the shop in Lisbon’s Chiado district.

2009 – “DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”

Solitaire collection – platinum and diamond. The diamond is left suspended over another diamond that illuminates it. An innovative and exclusive setting of the House of Leitão.

.
.

2011 – JEWELS WITH HISTORY

Promessa de Amor Collection. Jewellery collection inspired by the stained glass windows of the monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória at Batalha. The construction of the monastery was promised by King João I should he win the battle of Aljubarrota. The left wing, known as the “ala dos namorados”, commanded by Nuno Álvares Pereira, was decisive in the victory.

2013 – PORTUGUESE-CHINESE RELATIONS

Collection of silverware and jewellery inspired by oriental culture and created in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Portuguese-Chinese relations.

.
.

1786 – JOSÉ TEIXEIRA DA TRINDADE

José Teixeira da Trindade is born in the city of Porto. He became a prominent citizen linked to trade with Brazil and gold business. He kept close links with the goldsmithery industry.Maria Delfina, his only daughter, married José Pinto Leitão.

.

1822 – VERNACULAR JEWELLERY

José Pinto Leitão registers the “JPL” hallmark and opens his business at Rua das Flores, the classic goldsmiths’ street in Porto.”… The type of establishment in those days was that of a shop-workshop, where the craftsman worked in sight of the customers, beside the sales counter.The typical articles that were produced were the ‘heart’, the earring, the cordon, items that in the north were worn on feast-days, at sung mass, at popular festivals … “

.

1837 – MARRIAGE

Marriage of José Pinto Leitão to Maria Delfina, daughter of José Teixeira da Trindade. This marriage played a fundamental role in the development of the House of Leitão.

.

1866 – EUROPE

The house makes its mark in the country. Narciso and Olindo, sons of the founder, lend continuity to the family business and take the name Leitão & Irmão. They modernise production, bringing in new materials, and investing in machinery. They extend the business abroad, setting up branches in Paris and London, building up an important network of contacts.

.

1872 – BRAZIL

Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, grants Leitão & Irmão the title of “Goldsmiths of the Imperial House of Brazil”. The link between the Crown and the House of Leitão dates back to siege of Porto (1832/1833), where José Teixeira da Trindade establishes special relations with king Pedro IV of Portugal, who was also Pedro I of Brazil.

.

1877 – LISBON

Opening of the shop in the cosmopolitan Chiado district in Lisbon. Leitão & Irmão, with brothers Narciso and José, carry on the business in the capital of the kingdom benefiting from the proximity of the court. During this period, they undertake the artistic project to restore the traditions of Portuguese goldsmithery, marking the renewal of the craft in the second half of the nineteenth century.

.

1886 – QUEEN AMÉLIA OF PORTUGAL

Jewels offered by the Portuguese royal family to princess Amélia of Orleans on the occasion of her marriage to Carlos, future king of Portugal. The set consisted of a diadem of brilliants offered by king Luís, a necklace of brilliants, by queen Maria Pia, a necklace of brilliants and sapphires chosen by prince Carlos, a pair of tortoise-shell, gold and brilliants binoculars by prince Afonso and a diamond brooch by prince Augusto. Of these jewels, the diamond diadem stands out, used in 1995 by Isabel on the occasion of her marriage to prince Duarte of Braganza.

.

1887 – L&I HALLMARK

The Leitão & Irmão manufacturing mark is registered with the Lisbon assay office, the oldest still extant in Portugal, instituted in 1887. Consisting of the female figure of a sphinx crowned by the letter “L”, it is still in use today.

.

1887 – EMPEROR WILHELM I OF GERMANY

Sword of honour in gold, precious stones and enamel, a gift by Luís, King of Portugal, to Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany, on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday.

.

1887 – CROWN JEWELLERS

On December 1st, king Luís grants to Leitão & Irmão the title of “Crown Jewellers”. Leitão & Irmão continued to be chosen by the Royal family to create gifts for family, friends and personalities. Queen Maria Pia was also an enthusiastic and loyal customer. She played a decisive role in the acquisition of numerous utilities and decorative objects in silver and gold, mostly of great refinement and sobriety, revealing a preference for the neo-rocaille taste.

.

1888 – THE VATICAN

Chalice offered by king Luís to Pope Leo XIII, to commemorate His Jubilee in 1888. As a particular sign of pleasure, Pope Leo XIII celebrated the Jubilee mass with the chalice offered by the king of Portugal.

.

1889 – INDUSTRIAL RENEWAL.

Opening of the new, modern workshops in Lisbon, in the Bairro Alto district, to accommodate the various arts and crafts related to the design and manufacture of goldsmithery and jewellery.

.

1898 – SEA ROUTE TO INDIA

Commemorative Medal of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Vasco da Gama in India. .

.

1900 – ART

The Barahona Silverware, considered a masterpiece of Portuguese goldsmithery. The design and modelling were entrusted to Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, one of the great artists of the time.

.

1907 – AFRICA

Coffer of Citizenship, offered to prince Luís Filipe during the royal journey to the Portuguese colonies of Africa in 1907. It was manufactured in the Bairro Alto workshops by the hands of two Portuguese master silversmiths: João da Silva and Júlio Rodrigues Pinto, head of the workshop. In chased silver and with four ivory tusks on the lid, it rests on four rhinoceroses and has figures of natives along the edges.

.

1908 – UNITED STATES OF BRAZIL

Brazil Cup, commissioned by king Carlos to offer to the President of the Republic of the United States of Brazil, within the context of the celebrations of the centenary of the Opening of the Brazilian ports to Friendly Nations.

.

1913 – MANUEL II OF PORTUGAL

Silver and gold caravel offered by Portuguese monarchists to Manuel II.

.

1913 – AUGUSTA VICTORIA OF HOHENZOLLERN

Jewellery offered by Portuguese monarchists to princess Augusta Victoria of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen on the occasion of her marriage in Sigmaringen to Manuel II.

.

1917 – “BELLE ÉPOQUE”

In the third generation it was Jaime de Castro Leitão who took over the reins of the House. He studied in Paris, where he associated with the great artists of the “Belle Époque”. With René Lalique he designed several pieces, among them a silver cutlery set, registered in 1917, which is still in production today.

.

1918 – WORLD WAR I

Silver plaque offered by the insurance companies to the Portuguese Navy in recognition of the action of the minesweeper “Augusto de Castilho” in defending the s.s. “São Miguel”.The minesweeper defended the “São Miguel”, confronting the German submarine U-139. The combat lasted two hours and ended with the sinking of the minesweeper, allowing the “São Miguel” to reach the Azores in safety.

.

1939 – FOOTBALL

Portugal Cup in chased silver. The cup makes reference to the Discoveries, with chased caravels on various parts of the trophy. Above the caravels the five quinas (or shields) stand out. Over the wings is the armillary sphere, surmounted by the cross of Christ, references to the Portuguese way.

.

1942 – OUR LADY OF FÁTIMA

Crown of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the most noteworthy Portuguese jewels. Gift of the Portuguese in gratitude for their children have been spared the drama of World War II. The Crown, of gold and precious stones, the result of a national campaign of gifts entrusted to the House of Leitão, was crafted during three months by twelve craftsmen and has 313 pearls and 2679 precious stones set in gold. Almost half a century later, in 1984, this work gained greater consequence when Pope John Paul II offered Our Lady of Fatima the bullet that struck him during the attempt on his life on May 13, 1981, at the Vatican. The bullet fit perfectly in the empty space left in 1942 at the junction of the eight arches that form the crown of a Queen.

.

1958 – CHRIST THE KING

Gold liturgical furnishings Inauguration of the Christ the King monument.

.

1976 – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Plaster model of the gold eagle offered by the Portuguese Republic to the President of the United States of America, on the occasion of the bicentennial of the declaration of independence.

.

1981 – ARTISTS

Leitão & Irmão is restructured on the basis of its industrial origin.Inspired by the visit of Pope John Paul II, a start was made, in the Bairro Alto workshop, to work on the crib designed by sculptor Graça Costa Cabral. The sculptress’ strict plastic interpretation, the lustre, the textures and the matrices required a new process that would produce the pieces with no seams, soldering or joints, exactly like the original carved in a single block. The process melded the experience of the craftsmen with avant-garde technology. The first artist’s proofs were offered to Pope John Paul II in 1982, during his first pilgrimage to Fátima.

.

1983 – DISCOVERIES

Portuguese mariner’s astrolabe (replica) symbol of the 17th Art, Science and Culture Exhibition, based on the original at the Museum of Dundee, Scotland.

.

1988 – COLLABORATION WITH UNIVERSITIES

Compass Rose Collection. Recreation in silver and vitreous enamel of the compass roses of Portuguese Cartography of the Fifteen Hundreds, in collaboration with the University of Coimbra.

.

1993 – URBAN ARCHITECTURE

Silver pillories. Inspired by Portuguese mediaeval urban architecture, the pillories collection was produced with the collaboration of the Portuguese Academy of History.

.

1998 – OCEAN VOYAGES

Collection of marine animals in silver. Included in the Lisbon International Exhibition (Expo ’98), which celebrated the oceans, the marine animals collection called “The Great Inhabitants of the oceans” was produced, with the scientific advice of the University of Lisbon, the Guia maritime laboratory and the Musée Océanographique du Monaco.

.

2000 – JUBILEE

The crib, by sculptor Graça Costa Cabral. Comprising 15 silver figures on a base consisting of five slate plaques, the piece was delivered to Pope John Paul II in Fátima, on the occasion of the Jubilee Year 2000, finalising the work begun in 1981.

.

2004 – TABLE ART

The Pedro Leitão Tableware, example of the association between jewellery and established artists, is a new symbol of the present times. At the proposal of gastronome José Bento dos Santos, it was honoured in Paris with the Prix de l’Art de la Table, awarded by the International Academy of Gastronomy.

.

2004 – LISBON AT THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD

“Rhinocerus 1515” in chased silver. Inspired by the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer, based on the original design by Valentim Fernandes done in Lisbon in 1515. The rhinoceros was offered to king Manuel I of Portugal by the king of Cambay in 1514, having arrived in Lisbon on May 20, 1515 aboard the armed merchantman Nossa Senhora da Ajuda after crossing the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

.

2005 – COSMOPOLITAN CHIADO

Reopening of the shop in Lisbon’s Chiado district.

.

2009 – “DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”

Solitaire collection – platinum and diamond. The diamond is left suspended over another diamond that illuminates it. An innovative and exclusive setting of the House of Leitão.

.

2011 – JEWELS WITH HISTORY

Promessa de Amor Collection. Jewellery collection inspired by the stained glass windows of the monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória at Batalha. The construction of the monastery was promised by King João I should he win the battle of Aljubarrota. The left wing, known as the “ala dos namorados”, commanded by Nuno Álvares Pereira, was decisive in the victory.

.

2013 – PORTUGUESE-CHINESE RELATIONS

Collection of silverware and jewellery inspired by oriental culture and created in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Portuguese-Chinese relations.

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