Lecture Programme 2019
Martin Henig and Helen Molesworth
Personal cameos of Roman date in the Content Family Collection
The Content family's collection of Roman personal cameos is special not merely because of its size, but also because of the taste and scholarly acumen evident in its assembly. Part of the collection was published by Martin Henig in 1990 but the much expanded collection has recently been fully researched in a new catalogue, The Complete Content Cameos, by Martin Henig and Helen Molesworth, with additional contributions by Christopher Cavey, Derek Content and Jeffrey Spier. This talk, based on their joint study, will highlight the diversity of the collection spanning several centuries and put it in its broader context of Roman art and culture.
AGM followed by
A Whiter Shade of Pale: Platinum in 19th-century Jewellery
Platinum jewellery is usually considered to be a twentieth-century phenomenon, with companies such as Cartier bringing it to the forefront. In truth, however, this intriguing and often intractable metal has a long history in jewellery, ranging from ancient Egypt and Pre-Colombian Ecuador through to the rapid advances in the eighteenth and nineteenth century with even beer and Coca Cola® playing a part alongside innovators such as Janety and Tiffany & Co. This presentation will consider this often neglected aspect of jewellery history, focusing on the nineteenth century, but closing with a brief look at the introduction of white gold alloys in the early twentieth.
The story behind ‘Hungarian’ opals
Of all precious stones, it is opal that presents the greatest difficulties of description. As Pliny the Elder said, it displays at once the piercing redness of garnet, the purple brilliance of amethyst and the sea-green of emerald, the whole blended together and glowing with a brightness that is quite incredible. Until about the end of the 19th century the Kingdom of Hungary was the principal supplier of this beautiful stone. In the past, however, it came to the market because of fraudulent trading as ‘Oriental Opal’. The aim was to increase the selling price and keep the source in the Carpathian mountains concealed. But the truth had to come out in the end.
Jewelry for America
The earliest jewelry worn in America was of a sentimental nature, related to love and marriage or to death and mourning. In the early nineteenth century, a domestic industry began to take root. Newark, New Jersey, became home to countless manufacturers, and the iconic firms of Gorham and Tiffany & Co. were established. On New York’s Fifth Avenue, upscale jewelry houses strove to compete with European brands, while Britain’s Arts & Crafts movement inspired American jewelers to create small-batch studio production. Ms. Wees, curator of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York with the same title as this talk, will conclude with a brief look at mid-20th-century artists whose modernist designs paved the way for contemporary innovations.
Despite rarely being the sole identifier in an investigation, the ‘forensic’ use of jewellery is not an entirely new phenomenon. Jewellery has personal, sentimental, religious, cultural, geographic and regional significance; demonstrating a connection to identity across time, place, and space. Dr Maria Maclennan, the world’s first ‘Forensic Jeweller’, will discuss some of her award-winning PhD research exploring how jewellery can assist in investigations of crime, death, and disaster. Maria has previously worked alongside a number of high-profile organisations within both law enforcement and academia internationally, deploying across the globe to assist with identifying the jewellery recovered after mass fatalities. She is a regular public speaker on the topic of ‘Forensic Jewellery’, having previously delivered talks to the likes of the National Crime Agency, Library of Congress, European Academy of Forensic Science, V&A, and TEDx, in addition to appearing on television and radio broadcasts such as BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow, BBC Radio 4 Live, and a recent historical crime documentary on BBC One.
Sarah Steele, Sigrid van Roode, Jack Ogden
New Research on Jewellery
Three speakers will each present a 20-minute paper about their discoveries. In a talk entitled Jet in Jewellery, Sarah Steele, a craftsman with a background in geology and gemmology, will identify the unique gemmological properties of jet and discuss its use in jewellery. In a talk entitled Silver of the possessed: Egyptian zār jewellery from ca. 1900 – 1980, Sigrid van Roode will introduce the topic of her ongoing PhD at Leiden University. So-called zār jewellery was worn by women dancing during possession ceremonies in the Nile Valley that originated in the deep south of Ethiopia. Finally, SJH President Jack Ogden will present Enamels of Byzantium: 12th cent. AD and 21st cent. 3D, an overview of his recent research on Byzantine enamels and how 3D computer modelling has helped understand some of the challenges their makers faced. Dr Léonard Pouy of the School of Jewellery Arts, Paris, who had been scheduled to speak on Paris, a Pearl Capital? was unable to do so.
Brooches, badges and pins at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Brooches and badges are jewels which began as vital dress fasteners but soon evolved into intricate and versatile works of art. In this talk, Rachel Church will discuss the role of the brooch as a gift of love and friendship and as a sign of social and political identity, and will consider how its use and appearance mirrored wider changes in dress.
Links to previous Lecture Programmes