By The Goldsmiths’ Company Curator, Dr Dora Thornton
Charlotte De Syllas’s exceptional technical mastery in gemstone carving makes her work look deceptively simple. She has a particular affinity with jade, which she transforms into flowing sculptural forms.
Her ‘Swift’ brooch is a sensuous abstract sculpture in bicoloured Russian jade and is cut from a single piece. She has used the natural colouring in the layers of the stone to differentiate the brown wings from the white body. The shape is not exact but the curve in the stone suggests the bird’s swooping flight over water as it hunts. De Syllas lives in Norfolk, where she observes the swifts’ migration every year. The beautiful brooch from 2012 relates closely to a necklace in white nephrite jade which was commissioned by the Goldsmiths’ Company in 2013. It evokes flocks of migrating birds. Making it, De Syllas says, “I kept thinking of refugees ‘in flight’, longing for wings.”
The art of carving gemstones requires special artistic and technical skill. Charlotte De Syllas has created a unique body of work, giving jewellery a distinctive sculptural dimension. Here we show Charlotte’s process of creating jewellery, using both lapidary machines and hand finishing techniques.
With special thanks to Charlotte De Syllas.
Object photography by Simon B. Armitt.
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