Ernest Blyth (1939–1995)

RING (top right)

1969

Hoop of two edging wires with short lengths of perforated tubing, around two offset rectangular green tourmalines separated by a strip of four baguette diamonds ajouré, stamped BLYTH inside the hoop

An extraordinarily bold, architectural cocktail ring from 1969. It is constructed from 18 carat gold, using small sections of squared and drilled tubing built up in layers to form the bezel. Within this gold scaffolding, four baguette diamonds and two rectangular tourmalines are set on a white gold textured background. The subtle effect is one of layers, contrasting rough gold with smooth stones within the depth of the ring. Blyth’s engraved signature is inserted on a small plaque on the inside of the hoop. Blyth’s designs stand out for their innovative design and technical skill; the maker Tom Scott recalls in the link below how he worked with Blyth on a stunning fused gold necklace from 1966 which is now in the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection.

Ernest Blyth started his career in 1957 with a part-time course at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, followed by an apprenticeship in assaying at the London Assay Office of the Goldsmiths’ Company. His first uncompromising abstract brooches were shown in the International Exhibition of Modern Jewellery in 1961, and were acquired for the Company’s Collection. After the exhibition he joined H.J. Company Ltd where Andrew Grima was the lead designer. In 1962 he pioneered batch production silver jewels inspired by the Danish designer Henning Koppel which were sold by Ivan Tarratt Jewellers in Leicester—examples are in the collection of the National Museums Scotland and in the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1966 he opened a joint workshop with the jeweller, Frances Beck, who had also worked for Andrew Grima. They had a workshop in Shepherd Market and became a highly successful team, winning two De Beers Diamonds International Awards. Beck stopped working as a jeweller after Blyth’s death in 1995. The Company holds two rings from 1972 marked for Blyth and three rings from 1975 marked for Blyth and Beck.

Ring above right:
1969
18 carat gold, composed of short sections of tube, bezel raised to hold pear-shaped facetted topaz with four diamonds claw-set at the neck. Marked FMB

A similar ring by Ernest Blyth in the National Museums Scotland (NMS) was made a year before the Goldsmiths’ Company ring and shows the same architectural approach to layering smooth stones within roughly textured gold.

Ring above:
1966
18ct fused gold ring, made en suite with fused gold necklace also in the Company Collection, the making of which is described by Tom Scott in the recorded interview below. Stamped with initials EAB inside hoop.

Joanna Hardy in conversation with jeweller Tom Scott.