The business was founded on 10 November 1866 by Robert Kirk Inches and his uncle, James Hamilton. The firm opened its premises at 90A Princes Street, Edinburgh under the name of Hamilton & Inches, succeeding to Mackay, Cunningham & Co, where James Hamilton operated as Principal Assistant for 20 years.
In 1883, James Hamilton retired from the partnership, leaving Robert Kirk Inches and his successors the right to continue the business using his name and leaving Robert in sole charge.
In 1887, they incorporated the old firm of Robert Bryson & Sons, and expanded into new premises including their own craftsmen's workshop at 87/88 Princes Street. The premises occupied part of a late 18th century building, with a 19th century shop front built out at ground level.
The firm obtained a Royal appointment as "Goldsmiths, silversmiths, clock & watchmakers to Her Majesty" Queen Victoria.
Robert Kirk Inches was elected Lord Provost of Edinburgh and Knighted in 1915. He died on 2nd August 1918. Two of his sons followed the father in the family business. The elder, Robert Inches, suddenly died in 1900 while the younger, Edward James Inches, became partner in 1912 and continued to manage the firm until his death in 1934.
The business was continued by his eldest son Campbell, followed by his younger brother, Ian Hamilton Inches, who, in 1950, became the proprietor of the firm. He was assisted by his wife Deirdre "Betty" Inches as Consultative Director and by D. Ian T. Kinnear as Executive Director (1966).
In 1952, the firm moved to 87 George Street, Edinburgh. The activity continued to be a family business until 1992, when the Inches sold the firm to the luxury group Asprey of London.
From 1998, after a management buy-out, Hamilton & Inches was sold by Asprey and returned an independent company. It is now the only Scottish manufacturing goldsmiths' company to survive from the 19th century.
Hamilton & Inches holds a Royal Warrant to Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II as silversmiths.