John Donald

Brooch pendant

1963

18 carat yellow gold striated cubes, cut from square drawn wire, soldered to form a domed shape, and irregularly set with diamonds in white gold.

An iconic design with crystalline structure by John Donald, who studied metalsmithing at the Royal College of Art alongside Gerald Benney and Robert Welch. In 1959, Graham Hughes, Art Director at Goldsmiths’ Hall, encouraged Donald’s experiments using silver rods (known as chenier) supplied by bullion dealers to make inexpensive brooches. Donald recalls: “there were very few new things being made in jewellery… Innovation just hadn’t happened for 20 years, partly because of the [Second World] war, so in design terms one could do anything at all. It was a completely open book”. New jewellery production was also crushed by the huge luxury tax rates after the war. Hughes bought Donald’s brooches for the Company’s Collection. “This was an enormous boost to my confidence and, of course, gave me a small amount of money with which to continue experimenting.” He won the competition in 1959 for the new Goldsmiths’ Company Warden’s badge — a heraldic piece in a modern idiom with an abstract irregular textured rim. In 1960 he set up his own workshop, and later retail shops in London and Geneva, winning royal patrons and an international clientele.