Commissioning the Contemporary
Since it received its first charter in 1327, the Goldsmiths’ Company has supported excellence, craftsmanship, community and skill in the goldsmiths’ trade. The Company continues to commission as well as purchase pieces. Commissioning is very important to the Company, helping to nurture the talent and build the experience and confidence of emerging jewellers as well as celebrating the skills of established makers and documenting their careers. The Collection includes over 500 modern British jewels and more than 80 modern foreign jewels. Pieces selected or commissioned for the Collection should be in precious metals and show above all the creative individuality of the studio artist jeweller. The Collection does not focus on the branded names of Cartier, Tiffany etc., but on contemporary studio art jewellery in precious metals. As a result, such jewels retain their value for their craftsmanship and creativity, and not for their precious metal content or set stones.
The Company’s pioneering support for contemporary makers through competitions and commissioning, as celebrated in this display, has enhanced the vitality of design and craftsmanship in silver, jewellery and art medals into the 21st Century. Jewellery is worn at occasions in the Hall. Pieces are also displayed in exhibitions and lent elsewhere, as well as being used for teaching the next generations of makers, our apprentices at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, and promoting wider knowledge and patronage of the craft. Our ambitious plans to digitise our collections will make much of our material, both objects and archives, available online to show who we are and what we do as we approach our 700th anniversary in 2027.
“That, to me, is what jewellery is all about – a statement about yourself without having to say a word.”
Object photography by Clarissa Bruce and Richard Valencia.
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