Masterpieces of American Jewellery Masterpieces of American Jewellery, the first museum exhibition to focus exclusively on America’s jewellery heritage, will be on display at the Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, London, from 15 Febr
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - Masterpieces of American Jewellery highlights the creativity, craftsmanship and excellence of design found in American jewellery and explores five major themes: Americana, Nature, Humour, Pastimes and High Style.
Americana is exemplified by a brooch set with diamonds, sapphires and rubies depicting the American flag. Charles Tiffany, together with John Young, formed a jewellery business in 1837 and the ‘star spangled banner’ in the exhibition was made in New York in 1900 by Tiffany & Co., still a household name today. It is exquisitely made, the flag rippling in the wind with diamond tassels flying behind, while in 1927 the New York branch of Cartier made an elegant brooch with the flag stylised into the form of a bow-tie.
A number of pieces in the Americana section commemorate such great events as Wilbur Wright’s 1909 flight over New York, the 1939 New York World Fair and the suffragette movement. America’s fascination with technology and its no-nonsense approach to life can be seen in a pair of gold cufflinks designed in 1940 as nuts and bolts by Paul Flato, the darling of the Hollywood and café society sets.
Nature. Inspired by exotic flora, American jewellers gave free rein to their imagination and this theme remains popular today. In 1889 Tiffany & Co. displayed 25 exceptional and botanibotanically accurate diamond, enamel and gold brooches by Paulding Farnham at the Paris World Fair. All were sold by the second day, many to the railroad baron Jay Gould. Six of these breathtaking creations, each representing a different variety of orchid, are on view. Marcus & Co. also created remarkable pieces such as the brooch of enamel and yellow gold of two irises which appear translucent when held up to the light, 1900, and an exquisite ruby, diamond, gold and enamel lily flower brooch, 1930. The Duchess of Windsor reinforced this passion for nature - when she wore a flower brooch, everyone wanted one.
Humour. American jewellery design has always had a witty streak. In the 1930s, Walt Disney went into partnership with Cartier to create a series of enamelled charm bracelets representing some of his animated characters.
Another jeweller influenced by Disney was Raymond C. Yard. A group of his whimsical Bunny Pins made from diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds will be exhibited, each depicting a rabbit - fishing, dressed as a soldier, a waiter, as a bride, a yacht owner at his boat’s wheel and pretending to ride. The bunny appears again with the Bunny Bangle created by the artist Daniel Brush. Exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute in 1987, the bangle is made of 1940s Bakelite and gold, surmounted by a rabbit’s head of pink diamonds and ruby eyes. Donald Claflin of Tiffany looked to Lewis Carroll for inspiration for his walrus brooch of 1965 made of platinum, enamel, gold, diamond and ivory.
Major artists frequently design jewellery and an extraordinary example is the tiara and necklace made in brass, commissioned from Alexander Calder in the 1950s by Sir Kenneth (later Lord) Clark for