Jewellery Studies Past Issues

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2020/1. Re-discovering Post-War British Modernist Jewellery. Sarah Rothwell


Modernist jewellery design from the late 1940s and 1950s has been celebrated internationally for its progressive style, use of materials, as well as artistic achievement within manufacture. Conventional dictates and traditions of the jewellery sector were broken, with artist jewellers and designers from North America and the Nordic states in Europe leading the way. British modernist jewellery however remains in the shadow of this influential movement, due to a lack of publication and celebration of individuals from this period. Unpublished files in the archives of the Goldsmiths’ Company, London, have not revealed conclusive proof, but have alluded to the reasons why jewellers in post-war Britain embracing the modernist aesthetic have been overlooked, or even wrongly dismissed. This article exposes the names and work of some of these forgotten jewellers, which have been re-discovered by the author.


Sarah Rothwell, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Design, has been with National Museums Scotland since 2014. She is curator for the collections of British, European and other 'Western' glass, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery and industrial design circa 1945 till present.