Desmond Clen-Murphy (1924–2010)

RING (centre)


gold, smoky quartz, iron glance, unmarked

These massive, bold cocktail rings by Desmond Clen-Murphy, with their rough, uncut natural crystals, are full of the confidence and experimentation which marked the explosive renaissance in British jewellery design in the early 1960s. The use of crystals was one significant development which emerged during this period, as exemplified also in the better-known jewels of Andrew Grima and John Donald. Peter Hinks, jewellery historian and former head of the jewellery department of Sotheby’s, wrote the following of Clen-Murphy’s statement jewels: “His approach to the setting of rough crystals is uncomplicated but original and his rough-hewn treatment of gold and silver never lets one forget that they too are of the earth. His treatment is monolithic, the setting simple, sometimes minimal, but invariably apt and going with the complex visual grain of the stone.”

Despite the audacity of his jewellery, Clen-Murphy is today remembered more as a silversmith than a jeweller. He studied with Gerald Benney at Brighton School of Arts and Crafts, and later he himself taught at Worthing. He worked mostly to commission and the Goldsmiths’ Company commissioned several pieces of silver from him which are now in the Company Collection, including a striking silver centrepiece commissioned by Prime Warden Sir John Prideaux in 1976. In the same year, Clen-Murphy designed a silver and silver-gilt goblet for Aurum for Chichester Cathedral, to commemorate the ninth centenary of the founding of the current cathedral in 1076.

Rings below, reading clockwise from left:
Ring, c1964
gold, smoky quartz, iron glance, unmarked
RIng, 1961
silver-gilt, uncut amethyst
This ring was included in the ‘International Exhibition of Modern Jewellery 1890–1961′ held at Goldsmiths’ Hall.
Ring, c1961
brass, mock diamond, unmarked

Ring below:
1961, silver, rough rose quartz

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