Magnus Maximus Designs was a short-lived English jewellery company founded by three designers and jewellery makers, Michael Gray Bell, Pauline Diane Bell and Ian Murray Pennell, who worked in Frizington, a village in Cumbria. During its short period of operation, the company produced a range of stylish jewellery, which can be broadly split in to two main types: pieces using flat or rounded cabochons of semi-precious and other hardstones, and those using nuggets of raw crystals and minerals (‘druzy’). The mounts and frames for these pieces were usually plain and unadorned, creating a minimalist, sculptural effect and showcasing the stones perfectly.
So far, all the pieces I have seen of theirs are hallmarked between 1971 and 1979. I have seen 1971 and 1972 Birmingham hallmarks, and 1972 to 1979 inclusive Edinburgh hallmarks, so it looks like at some point in 1972 they decided to change from using the Birmingham Assay Office to the Edinburgh one. The Edinburgh maker’s mark was registered at the Assay Office there in May 1973, but as it was used on at least one 1972 Edinburgh piece, obviously they were using it before it was registered.
I have an interesting pewter pendant which is marked on the back by hand with MMD. I am certain this is by Magnus Maximus Designs, but have seen no other pewter pieces by them. Stylistically it would fit well win their oeuvre, with a flat cabochon of an agate-like stone, perhaps serpentine, and a bold sculptural frame.
As there seem to be no pieces post-dating 1979, I assume that the company ceased trading in 1979 or the very early 1980s.
I would love to know more about this company, and what the three designers went on to do. If you have any information, I’m all ears!