Charlotte De Syllas (born 1946)
Carved Wyoming black nephrite jade and Russian white nephrite jade articulated with 18 ct white gold findings, made and designed by Charlotte De Syllas. Height 1.4 cm, length 3.6 cm. Marked: Charlotte De Syllas, London.
Charlotte De Syllas’ carved gemstone jewellery is outstanding. One of the first graduates from Gerda Flöckinger’s experimental modern jewellery course at Hornsey College of Art, she has combined metal with gemstones in innovative and technically demanding ways since the 1960s. Known for her interest in natural forms and the precision involved in the planning and creation of her pieces, De Syllas has developed methods of hollowing out, carving and inlaying gemstones to produce distinctive sculptural jewels. She is recognised as a leading lapidary artist jeweller, winning (together with Peter Chang) the first ever Jerwood Prize for Jewellery in 1995. The Company held a major retrospective exhibition of her work at Goldsmiths’ Hall in 2016. In 2022 she was awarded the QEST [Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust] Award for Excellence.
De Syllas works mostly to commission, and usually begins with a stone and contemplates the form it could take rather than starting with a design. The exceptional Millennium bracelet, carved from contrasting black and white jade of the highest quality, was commissioned by the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1999 as a striking showpiece for display rather than as a piece to be worn. De Syllas began with a model which she translated into digital working drawings to resolve the complex angles of the piece before the jade was blocked out and drilled in Idar Oberstein, Germany. The joints between the meticulously articulated sections were inspired by jewellery she had seen in India. Colour is of great significance in De Syllas’ work and the bold, monochrome bracelet contrasts to the more organic flow of many of her pieces. It represents a unique celebration of her astonishing skill.
Charlotte De Syllas has several pieces in the V&A jewellery collection, including the spectacular Shell necklace commissioned by the Museum in 1990.