Tuesday, 28 July 2015

History of Jewellery - Part XIX

In this, the penultimate (I've always wanted a chance to use that word) post based on the lecture we got from Susan Rumfitt back in March, I'm going to talk about three things.


I mentioned before that she told us Art Deco was the last true style of jewellery. She said it suits all ages and lifestyles, if not price brackets. In the 1960s there was an art deco revival - and the name 'art deco' was coined. Back in the interwar period it was called something like 'art moderne'.  In addition to the revival in the 60s, she told us Cartier had re-invented itself in the 21st century with its art deco jewellery. However at present I only find art deco writing implements for women, price from £300-770. (No presents, please).

Oh yes, and the tiara worn by Kate Middleton when she married Prince William was made by Cartier in 1936 for the Queen Mother.


One of many hallowed institutions here in Britain that is associated with jewellery making is The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. I remember visiting a jeweller in some small Northumbrian village on a day out with Vivien and he explained about the hallmarks on gold jewellery that signify not just the standard, but much more. I suspect it would be difficult to sell my American jewellery - not that I want to at this point - because of the lack of hallmarks. If the phrase 'Worshipful Company' amuses you as it does me, you can read about the 12 livery companies of London. They are called livery companies because back in the day of their original guilds, craftsmen wore special clothes to signify membership.

Anyhow, Susan told us about a fabulous exhibition at Goldsmith's Hall, designed by Alan Irvine. You can read about that here.  She pointed out that whilst we're quite blase about seeing jewellery in glass boxes sparkle madly because of special lighting, back in 1961 this was a new idea.


In Vienna, one very rainy day back in May, we spent the day at The Dorotheum, an auction house, browsing room after room and floor after floor of beautiful things for sale. To my amusement I learned that the German word for jewellery is 'schmuck'. Of course, in English it has a different definition: a foolish or contemptible person. The term come from the Yiddish word 'schmok', which means ... something else.

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