Lecture Programme 2023
The bright badge of courage: jewellery goes to war.
The decorative arts inevitably take a back seat during wartime. Times were difficult for jewellers and their customers in the First and Second World Wars. Precious metals were rationed, gemstones difficult to obtain, and jewellery factories were moved over to wartime production. Nevertheless, jewellery remained a key way for people to show their patriotism, keep their spirits up and protest against occupying forces. Wartime jewellery is a forgotten story of ingenuity, resilience and courage, from the sweetheart brooches of WWI to the Utility wedding rings and resistance jewellery of WWII.
AGM followed by
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‘My beautiful sapphires’: Queen Victoria’s sapphire coronet commissioned from Kitching and Abud, 1840-42
In the early summer of 1842 Franz Xaver Winterhalter completed a portrait of Queen Victoria wearing around her chignon a sapphire and diamond coronet designed by Prince Albert and supplied by Kitching and Abud of Conduit Street, London. The portrait was an immediate success. Later that year a version, much reproduced, in which Victoria wore the insignia of the Order of the Garter with the coronet, was presented to Louis Philippe, King of the French. In 1866, as a widow, Victoria wore the coronet on the first occasion on which she undertook the ordeal of attending the Opening of Parliament after Albert’s death. In 1922, King George V presented the coronet, adapted by Garrard to be wearable as either bandeau or coronet, to his daughter, Princess Mary, on her marriage. The lecture will offer a brief history of the coronet and explore the background of Joseph Kitching and Richard Abud, who grasped the opportunity to furnish jewels to the young queen and her consort.
History of Hatton Garden
The ‘Garden’, as it is known by those who have worked there in the past or work there today, is a unique area of London. It has been associated with the diamond and gem trade, and the jewellery manufacturing industry, for generations.
Originally the site of the garden of Ely Palace, Hatton Garden became known throughout the world as the ‘go-to’ place for all aspects of the jewellery trade. In a similar way to other London industrial hubs such as Billingsgate for fish, Covent Garden for fruit and vegetables, Smithfield for meat, and Fleet Street for the Press, Hatton Garden was something of a marketplace, but was also an arena where you could learn about what was going on in the world of diamonds and gems. Unlike the food markets though, with their sights, sounds and smells assaulting the visitor, the true Hatton Garden is a secret world. At a time before mobile phones and modern technology, it was essential to be in close proximity with others, both for trade and for information.
In compiling an accurate history of the jewellery and diamond trade in Hatton Garden, one is faced with the reality that in many cases there is very little by way of a paper trail. Transactions were effected by word of mouth.
‘My word is my bond’ might well have been written for the diamond trade as much as ‘Dictum Meum Pactum’ was for the London Stock Exchange. Many deals were done in secrecy. Many were done illegally. Only inside knowledge can capture some of the remarkable stories of those who have in some way left their footprint in Hatton Garden.
Insight into early medieval elite jewellery from Bohemia
The technological investigation of the set of elite jewellery from the Lumbe´s Garden cemetery at Prague Castle enabled a better understanding of these highly complex, and lavish pieces of jewellery from the beginning of the tenth century AD. Fine jewels produced by highly skilled and knowledgeable jewellers co-exist alongside more coarsely manufactured imitations produced by less experienced craftsmen, revealing a process of a gradual acquisition of new technology, initiated, in all likelihood, by the arrival in Bohemia of specialised jewellers and by diplomatic gifts, most likely from Great Moravia, and probably from the Byzantine and the Islamic world.
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