Gilian Packard (1938–1997)

ENGAGEMENT AND WEDDING RING

1964

18 carat gold, citrine and 18 carat gold. Given by Patricia Hicks, 2016

Made for Patricia Hicks as sub-editor of Homes & Gardens magazine by Gilian Packard, a distinguished jeweller who set up her own Chelsea business. Packard was the first woman to be made a Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company by ‘redemption’ in 1971 (i.e. for her work in the trade as opposed to membership by patrimony or apprenticeship).

A kite-shaped citrine in a shaped shank with one shoulder polished and another textured; the eye-shaped wedding band also part-polished and part-textured so as to be worn in different combinations. The bold impact is well-shown in the signed design drawing.

The pieces were generously given to the Company Collection by Patricia Hicks in 2016; they are pleasingly worn from wear and were presented in their original box. Patricia Hicks recalls making the commission for her rings from Gilian Packard: “Gilian designed my rings using gouache paint on oiled paper. She then began the crafting process using her images as a guideline.”

Gilian Packard is probably best remembered for her innovative and outstanding rings. The engagement and wedding ring in the Company’s Collection is an early example of pieces designed to be worn together as a pair. She later recreated the interlocking puzzle rings of the European Renaissance in a modern idiom; pieces that have to be manipulated to unlock or unite the distinct but joined elements. The 1970s saw her experimenting with interlocking forms within one ring, as in a superb example from 1972 in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. A small abstract sculpture set with a marquise diamond, the ring curves in a way that allows it to be worn in two orientations. It is dynamic and playful; as inviting to the hand as to the eye.

Highly influential as a teacher at Glasgow School of Art, she was elected Chair of the British branch of the World Council for Applied Arts in 1969 which ensured that British jewellers were represented in international exhibitions. Packard was the first woman to be admitted to the Company in a professional capacity [by redemption] in 1971; proof of the way in which the Company’s support for art jewellery from 1961 did much to modernise and broaden the membership, including to women makers, in its support for its allied trades.

The role of women within the Company continues to develop. As of 2021, 47% of the Company’s apprenticeship programme are women. In 2006 Dame Lynne Brindley became the first woman member of the Court of Assistants: she is the second woman to serve as the Company’s Prime Warden (2021–22), following Judith Cobham-Lowe (2017–18).