Frances Bendixson (1934–2020)

'CLUSTER' RING

1985

Gold wire, beryl and turquoise beads, seed-pearls

This delicate ring, formed of gold wire hand-twisted around itself and through beryl and turquoise beads and seed-pearls, is typical of Bendixson’s romantic and original style. It was—unusually for a ring—a special commission from the Goldsmiths’ Company.

Born in America in 1934, Bendixson’s mother was a textile designer. She herself studied Art History at Smith College in Massachusetts before working as an interior designer in San Francisco. In 1960 she married an English journalist and moved to London; in the early 1970s she began studying metalworking. Her first pieces of jewellery were known as ‘bodyscapes’; miniature scenes made from cut-out silhouettes in silver and brass worn as brooches. Impatient of the technical side of gem setting, cutting and polishing and wanting to work from home around her young family in a tiny studio with minimal equipment, she began to experiment with gold and silver wire and beads of quartz, tourmaline, citrine, pearls and rock crystal. Influenced by the wire sculptures of Alexander Calder and Sir Albert Gilbert, Bendixson’s jewels are wistful, enigmatic, and full of a quiet, muted beauty. They are also rare in public collections as she mostly worked to commission, inviting clients to her studio to choose a selection from the many drawers of gemstones segregated by colour and type.

 

Bendixson’s jewellery was exhibited at the Electrum and Casson galleries in London as well as at galleries in America, and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) held a retrospective exhibition of her work in 1985, the year the Goldsmiths’ Company commissioned this piece from her. After her beaded wire ‘cluster’ rings, Bendixson’s most memorable jewels are her dramatic tiaras, also made of hand-twisted wire and gemstones. There is a stunning example in the V&A collection which can also be converted into a neckpiece.

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