black and white illustration of a woman wearing diamond earrings

Our Heritage

A story of over 140 years of meticulous craftsmanship, creativity, celebration and Canadian legacy.

Portrait of Birks founder

Our Roots

Birks’ history can be traced back to over four centuries ago. The Birks tradition dates back to 16th century England, where Birks family members were master silversmiths in Sheffield, England. It is with this know-how, traditions and trade secrets, the Birks family emigrated to Canada in 1832. Though the Birks’ roots lie deep in English craftsmanship, it truly came to life when Henry Birks opened a first boutique in the heart of Montreal in 1879. His lifelong dream became a reality, and it grew into a magnificent fine jewellery legacy. 

The Dream

The Dream

Henry Birks founded the brand that ultimately became a coveted symbol of Canadian luxury and craftsmanship. A country born a mere decade before, Birks wanted to celebrate with the people of Canada. Celebrate life’s precious moments, create memories and commemorate. Henry Birks and Company was established on March 1, 1879 with the first boutique on Saint James Street in Montreal. In 1893, Henry Birks went into partnership with his three sons, and the company name changed to Henry Birks and Sons.

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Henry Birks knew that not all Canadians could visit his Montreal store, and he wished to make this jewellery available to clients by mail order across Canada.In 1901, Birks further expanded the company nationwide, with stores opening in the largest cities;  in Ottawa (1901), Winnipeg (1903), and Vancouver (1907). In 1907, Birks opened a new store on Square Phillips.With much success, Birks moves the business to the Golden Square mile of Montreal opening a boutique in Square Philips in 1881. This boutique was a marvel of architecture and offered the finest level of luxury and craftsmanship. It was truly a place to be celebrated and for celebration. The iconic Montreal store with its signature blue doors still operates today and has become a coveted landmark of downtown Montreal. 

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In the 1920s, Birks’ iconic blue box emerged and in the years that followed, hundreds of thousands of Canadians unwrapped their special blue boxes every year to mark special occasions. The covers were embossed with a black lion rampant and the twin letters ‘B’, and these iconic boxes were rarely thrown away. The Birks Blue Box ®continues to symbolize milestone moments to this day, each filled with a precious piece, exclusively from Birks. 

Royal Ties

Royal Ties

In 1934, Birks received a Royal Warrant to supply British royalty. Two decades later during a royal tour, the future queen, then Princess Elizabeth, was gifted a gem-laden platinum Birks necklace and famously said: “I have never received a more beautiful gift.” During World War II, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) toured Canada. The Queen was presented with a diamond-set maple leaf brooch made by Birks, and when the war began, she always wore it on her lapel when she visited Canadian servicemen stationed in London. Montreal also offered a Birks salver to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1959 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Many of the  gifts presented to the royal family over the years, mostly on the occasion of their many visits to Canada, were entrusted to the Birks workshops. Today, members of the royal family continue to embrace the Birks brand.

Noteworthy Awards & Honours

Noteworthy Awards & Honours

Birks has won many prestigious awards over the years. In 1955, it won an award for its stunning piece “Fire Concerto”; a diamond necklace created from brilliant and baguette diamonds accented with a cluster of pear-shaped diamonds.   In 1998, Birks was awarded the prestigious Diamond International Award for its exceptional piece “La Plume Cyrano”. The award is considered one of the world's most prestigious diamond awards. The piece in question was an exquisite gold and diamond brooch created by Annik Lucier in the Birks design studio. Birks also collaborates with numerous designers who won distinctions for their works, including Toni Cavelti and Marion Cameron.  

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At the start of the 2000s, Birks was one of the first companies to offer diamonds mined in Canada. The brand continues to win awards for its groundbreaking diamond designs and lead the way in offering these most precious gems mined in Canada. In 2004, it won another prestigious award with Nature’s Miracle Award for Annik Lucier's design “La constellation d'Adamas”. Created in the Birks design studio, this piece features three rows of diamonds that are three meters long and set in platinum.