Brighton’s transformation from decaying fishing village to quirky seaside resort was accelerated by the loud arrival of King George IV in 1783, who visited the area for the first time as Prince Regent and instantly fell in love with its stretching coastline. The presence of the king, his wealthy friends and his frivolous party pad, the Royal Pavilion, had an enormous impact on the prosperity and social development of Brighton from the 1790s onwards.
The advent of the London to Brighton Railway in 1841 enabled London residents to begin taking daytrips to Brighton, cutting loose and exploring their identities courtesy of a newfound sense of escapism and anonymity. Slowly but surely, Brighton developed a reputation as a safe place for people to express their authentic selves and embrace their desires, which culminated in the establishment of a number of queer-friendly pubs throughout the city by the 1930s, in spite of the continued criminalisation of homosexuality. It’s within these very walls that the Sussex Gay Liberation Front organised a small march on a summer’s day in 1973, which made history as Brighton’s first ever Pride march. Born out of a furious political objection to Section 28 – laws that banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality – Pride returned to Brighton in 1991 with a host of loud voices, banners, and a four-day programme of festival events. The rest, some may say, is history.
For years, Brighton has been known as the UK’s informal queer capital. Now, that’s a crown we can officially wear, with one in 10 people over the age of 16 (approximately 11-15% of our adult population) identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or of another sexual orientation in the 2021 census. Our streets are home to all number of queer-friendly spaces, and once a year, to our Trans Pride event – which is currently the largest protest for trans liberation in Europe.
Of course, it’s only fair to give ourselves a nod!
Behind our unique engagement rings, wedding bands and commitment rings is Arabel Lebrusan; leading visual artist, award-winning jewellery designer and key founder of the ethical jewellery movement. With over fifteen years of experience in jewellery design and a long list of accolades under her belt, Arabel is a multifaceted artist, drawing from a number of cultural and historical inspirations, including her Spanish roots, to create timeless heirloom jewels. Our collections are characterised by delicateness and intricate hand engravings, whilst our bespoke service is award-winning and hailed as “like working with a friend; someone who shares your vision and energy to create the perfect ring that encapsulates your priorities and values.” As one of the world’s first ever Fairtrade Gold licensees, Arabel is also proud to offer a variety of other sustainable metals, including recycled platinum and Fairmined Ecological Gold. Our clients are also invited to choose between artisanal Ocean Diamonds, reclaimed old-cut diamonds, or fair-traded and traceable coloured gemstones.
As members of the wedding and fine jewellery industries – both of which remain underpinned by some archaic traditions and notions of gender – we recognise how important it is to establish an atmosphere where LGBTQ+ people feel safe and celebrated. Whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or otherwise, we welcome you with open arms and will take great pride in our role as your jeweller.
We’re available by appointment on Thursdays and the occasional Saturday morning at the St. Augustine’s Arts & Events Centre in the north of the city.
Jeremy Hoye is a luminary of jewellery design in Brighton, having found fame here almost 30 years ago with the launch of his first store on Ship Street. Contemporary and handmade, Jeremy’s collections are largely defined by chunky, organic forms, rugged textures, embedded gemstone settings and playful references. “Refusing to follow trends,” Jeremy is proud to design jewellery for the non-conformists – those who know what they like. In recent years, Jeremy has turned his focus towards creating bespoke items of jewellery, although he continues to release new collections that are available to everyone.
Over the course of his Brighton-based career, Jeremy has become a popular designer amongst LGBTQ+ communities. His website boasts a dedicated section for ‘same-sex civil partnership and wedding bands’ and much of his jewellery is conceived to be unisex.
Jeremy Hoye can be found in the heart of Brighton’s iconic North Laine, tucked away inside a revived old Victorian pub. The store is open Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm, and commission consultations may be pre-booked by calling 01273 7760907 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Illustrated Jeweller was founded by tattoo artist turned jewellery designer James Robinson, who draws inspiration from Brighton’s coastal locality to design silver and gold jewellery adorned with nautical symbolism, from sailors and swallows to rope and wheels. Growing up on the coast, James has been forever fascinated by the calmness and power of the ocean, inherently connected to the moon and stars. A homage to his great-great-great grandfather, who was sadly lost at sea, James designs pieces that are emblematic and meaningful, representing fable, belief, and real tales from the sea, each making a powerful statement of its own. His collection is small but sturdy, each design open to customisation with alternative gemstones.
Proudly displaying a rainbow flag emoji in its Instagram bio, The Illustrated Jeweller describes itself as one of the best Brighton-based jewellers for gay people.
Though the brand does not have a physical shopfront, James offers bespoke consultations and encourages potential clients to reach out to him directly should they wish to run over any questions or ideas.
Baroque’s team of designer goldsmiths has been hand-crafting jewellery from its busy workshop and store in the historic Lanes jewellery quarter since 2006. They pride themselves on “pushing the boundaries of design” and “finding new ways to create original and unique pieces for you to love and keep,” working with recycled gold, Fairtrade Gold and conflict-free gemstones. Fuelled by a passion for quality, Baroque’s highly skilled craftspeople work traditionally, crafting jewels intuitively and by hand. The brand’s selling point is its revered bespoke service, with clients invited to meet the team in their opulent boutique and lose themselves in a world of beautiful windows and vintage cabinets.
The Baroque team describes itself as an eclectic mix of backgrounds, offering a diverse range of design outlooks. Previous bespoke commissions include a pair of matching ‘Molten’ wedding bands set with rainbows of fancy sapphires for a couple of Brighton-based ladies preparing to tie the knot.
Baroque’s boutique store is open Monday – Friday, 10am – 5.30am and Sunday, 11am – 4pm. The design team is also available for pre-booked bespoke consultations.
There we have it: Our LGBTQ+ oriented guide to buying a wedding band or commitment ring in Brighton. If you know of a jeweller that deserves a mention on this list, please don't hesitate to get in touch.