The 1961 exhibition and the beginning of the Modern Jewellery Collection
The Goldsmiths’ Company Collection of Modern Jewellery – contemporary studio art jewellery in precious metals – began in 1961 with the ‘International Exhibition of Modern Jewellery 1890–1961’ at Goldsmiths’ Hall.
“…the world’s first-ever exhibition of modern art jewellery…”
The idea originated with Carol Hogben and Shirley Bury, curators at the Victoria & Albert Museum, but when the Museum was unable to put on the show, Graham Hughes, Art Director at The Goldsmiths’ Company, stepped in. The 1961 exhibition put art jewellery on the map and helped to kick-start the revolution in 1960s jewellery design. Antique and avant-garde pieces were mixed in with works by independent designers and jewellery studios from 33 countries. The diamond company De Beers sponsored a competition “to stimulate advanced jewellery design”. Waxes modelled by modern artists such as Henry Moore and Elizabeth Frink were cast by H.J. Company Ltd, where Andrew Grima was the lead designer. Winning pieces were donated to the Company. The Goldsmiths’ Company, which had until then concentrated its support on contemporary silversmiths, became a major patron and collector of modern studio art jewellery.
These images show the displays of jewellery in custom-made tetrahedral showcases in the Exhibition Room at Goldsmiths’ Hall.