The enchanted world of A Wolf and I

Jewel Citizen talks to Jesa and Al Marshall

The name A Wolf and I immediately suggests a romantic fairy tale, something which is actually pretty spot on. It’s the intriguing business name of Dorset-based husband and wife jewellery duo Jesa and Al Marshall. Not only do they create exquisite bespoke jewels but they sell their work through an online shop, and they also teach jewellery making skills at their own school, Flux ‘n’ Flame.

A few years back I stumbled across their website and was drawn to Jesa and Al’s ‘Our Story’ page:

‘Once upon a time there was a little curly haired girl who liked climbing trees and hunting pixies and making stuff. In a strange kingdom, just east of London, she met a little hairy boy who liked wheels and fast things and making stuff and they liked each other so they hooked up…’

Immediately I’d read those lines I wanted to know more! So I signed up for an evening class and made stuff and throughly enjoyed every moment of it. But that was many a moon ago… Fast forward to summer 2017 and the time felt ripe for a little more of their magic. In the guise of Jewel Citizen I took a road trip down Dorset’s winding lanes and into the leafy countryside to meet the pair once again.

Jewel Citizen – Jesa, Al, when and how did you decide to become jewellers?

Jesa Marshall – Ever since I was a child I was headed for a creative job. I went to Art School where I specialised in ceramics and then went on to take a degree in Art History. During my degree I discovered a jeweller near Brighton who was running weekend jewellery making courses. I went along to one and was completely and utterly hooked. Boom! Just like that! After this I set out to make jewellery my career. I continued studying with Jinks McGrath in Brighton, I then took a City & Guilds at Portsmouth and went on to London Guildhall University to study Precious Jewellery for 3 years. Ta dah!

Al Marshall – My journey was a little less conventional and began with a 20 year career in the motor trade as a panel beater. It was through this that I learnt how to move and form metal to create three dimensional shapes. Shortly after Jesa and I met we attended a weekend course with Jinks McGrath together and I realised that my metalworking skills were totally transferable , I just needed to learn to work with precious metals and on a MUCH smaller scale !! I was also hooked and have never looked back.

JC – Guys, how important is having a vivid imagination to making it as a jeweller?

JM – I think my imagination is the single most important thing in my career as a jeweller. I’m sure any person working in a creative job would say the same. Our jewellery designs have their roots in dark fairytales, folklore and legends, so are particularly dependant on having a wild imagination !!!

AM – I would also say very important. As Jesa said, for the design side of things, you obviously need to be able to imagine collections and cohesive themes but also, from a practical angle you need to be able to imagine the piece as a three dimensional, wearable object. With jewellery, your ‘art’ has a practical function. It needs to be attractive, individual, unique but also comfortable and practical. All things you need to be able to visualise before you start making.

JC – Tell us about a couple of your favourite commissions and the stories behind them.

JM – Hmmm that’s so tricky as our commissions are always so different and always a great challenge !! I guess one of my favourites was our Maleficent bracelet. (photo below) We were given the theme by our lovely customer who wanted something super special for his wife. We took elements of Disney’s Maleficent character and turned them into a ring and bracelet which were joined together. It was so much fun and we were so proud of it when it was finished. It was silver and 18ct gold and had a huge spectrolite, a tourmaline and a ruby as well as a sprinkling of black diamonds. The ring and bracelet were joined together with a fine chainmail which was dotted with little moonstones. The ring was also a double ring which wrapped itself around two fingers!! So much fun!

 

 

AM – To be honest, almost all of our lockets end up being a favourite. What is really special about the lockets when we make them as commissions is that they each tell a story. We’ve made lockets to remember a life changing journey to Alaska, to remember a lost pet or a loved person. We made lockets which represent a place in which someone has left their heart but can’t be at the moment and lockets to symbolise love between a mother and daughter who have to live in separate countries. Each one has its own story and each one is so so special to design and make.

 

A bespoke locket by ‘A Wolf and I’

 

JC – What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever been asked to make?

JM – ha ha – I think many people would say all of our jewellery is unusual !!!! I think the most extraordinary thing we’ve been asked make was a commission by Historic Royal Palaces and was a collection of pieces to exhibit at the ‘Enchanted Palace’ exhibition at Kensington palace. The exhibition was based on the idea of dark fairytales escaping from the walls of the palace as they re-furbished it. We created a collection of pieces which were based on twisted thorns and ravens and dark fairy castles which were shown at the exhibition alongside incredible designers such as Vivian Westwood and Stephen Jones.

AM – Definitely the most unusual thing I have ben asked to make was a series of black steel crowns for an international fashion photographer to use in a Cartier shoot for Italian Vogue magazine. The crowns were then whisked off to Paris fashion week to be put to work on the cat walks. I was given rough sketches and an eight day deadline for the pieces to be completed. It was incredibly manic but huge fun and so awesome to see the crowns in the finished magazine.

JC – Jewellery is probably always going to be the number one romantic gift, so it’s probably fair to assume that you’ve made a few engagement and wedding rings in your time. What’s it like to play a part in someone else’s romantic story?

 

Another gorgeous bespoke locket

 

JM – It’s such an honour when someone entrusts us with making their engagement or wedding rings. I love meeting the couple and discussing ideas, they always tell me their story and I get so excited on their behalf !! I think its quite an intimate process as the rings are the one thing, apart from each other obviously, that will stay with them forever. Its crucial that we as designers listen and get to know the bride and groom a little so that we can design exactly the right rings for them.

AM – Almost every time we hand a pair of wedding rings over to the wedding couple or an engagement ring to a hopeful boyfriend we say to each other that we have made something that they will wear (hopefully) for their entire married life…something that could even be an heirloom and be passed down to their children and grandchildren. It blows us away every time ! It’s amazing and we always feel so privileged.

JC – If you could pick a dream client who would it be and why? What would you make for them?

JM – I have always wanted to make jewellery for the film industry. I would have killed to have been the jeweller for the Lord of the Rings trilogy or for Snow White and the Huntsman !!!! ha ha !!!

AM – Well….I can honestly say, there is no-one I would rather make jewellery for than Jesa. 🙂

JC – As well as your ‘A Wolf and I’ brand you also run a jewellery school, ‘Flux ‘n’ Flame’. You must be incredibly busy. How do you split your time between the two?

JM – Yes, it is quite a juggle sometimes. We have to work out our time very carefully. We are very lucky that we work so well together and enjoy spending so much time together – it makes the teamwork of running two businesses really easy. We each do some of the teaching and when we are not teaching we are working on our collections or commissions.

AM – Yes, I would say we manage it because we can work as a team. We both work on the commissions, I do some parts then I hand it to Jesa and she does some and she might hand it back to me. And we share the teaching and organising of Flux ’n’ Flame in the same way. We are also very lucky to have a little team of invaluable helpers who help us teach and help with the admin. We also make sure we have a good life balance. It’s all too easy to be so busy with work that you forget that your relaxation time is just as important. So we make sure we do lots of cool fun stuff when we’re out of the workshops.

JC – The next question is aimed at advising those readers who’ve yet to make a piece of jewellery. Perhaps they’re nervous about joining a class and think people need existing artistic or technical skills. What would you say to that?

JM – Almost all beginners start at Flux ’n’ Flame by apologising for their lack of creativity and you only have to take a look at our Facebook page to see that this ‘lack of creativity’ is just a lack of confidence.

AM – You really don’t need existing artistic skills, being a jeweller is as much about being practical and having an eye for detail as it is about design skills. So often designs evolve as you are making them and that’s totally fine.

JC – As a designer-maker what changes have you seen in the handmade / craft jewellery industry over the last decade or so?

JM – We have definitely seen an increase in an interest in making things. People love to make their own unique pieces and learn a new skill.

AM – Yes, and I think we have also seen an increase in people wanting more bespoke pieces made for them too. It’s almost as if people are getting weary of everything looking the same on the high street. They want something unique and individual that really says something about them.

 

Students getting creative at Flux ‘n’ Flame – Jesa and Al’s jewellery school

 

JC – Where can we view and buy your jewellery? Where do you teach? How can we find out more about your workshops and classes?

Have a look at the websites: www.awolfandi.com   www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AWolfandI   www.fluxnflame.co.uk

 

(photos courtesy of Jesa and Al Marshall, A Wolf and I)

Silver Screen – “I’ve danced between the two worlds of silver and animation.” 

Jewel Citizen speaks to silversmith Shannon O’Neill

 

When Shannon O’Neill was growing up she wanted to follow in her big sister’s footsteps and become a professional dancer, however fate led her to tread a very different path. She took off to India at the tender age of 18 and studied sculpture at the University of New Delhi, later returning to the UK, where she graduated from MMU with a first class degree in 3D design. Although Shannon worked mainly with wood and ceramics in Manchester, it was in her third year that she started to experiment with silver.

 

Jewel Citizen – Shannon, what first drew you to working with silver? Was silversmithing actually part of your degree course?

Shannon O’Neill – The course covered wood, metal, ceramics and glass in the first year, before I chose to specialise in wood and ceramics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JC – While still at university you won the prestigious title of ‘The Goldsmiths’ Young Designer of the Year’ award. How did you come to enter the competition?

SO – Coming up to Christmas in my final year, I was in need of extra portfolio work. Thanks to the encouragement of my tutor David Frost, I entered a design competition (The Young Designer Silversmith Award) and much to my surprise and delight, I won.

JC – What happened as a result of winning the competition?

SO – Part of the prize was to go to Nayler Brothers, The Crown Jewellers, to make the piece. Fortunately, it was made in two halves and because of their guidance and patience, I was able to work closely with the master silversmiths. By watching what, how and with what hammer, for the first half, I was able to copy immediately afterwards for the second half. Tony Bedford and his team were so inspiring – it was one of the best and most intense learning experiences of my life. It’s such a great material to work with and in the end I realised that I preferred my designs in silver!

Shannon’s career took off after graduating from MMU and she went on to work for a couple of weeks with silversmiths such as Michael Lloyd, Richard Fox, Angus McFadyen and Brian Clarke. She worked to commissions and also produced her own designs.

JC – A lot of your work has a sculptural quality about it. Has the time you spent in India been a strong influence?

SO – No doubt that played a part, but I think that all my experiences have helped inform what I make. It began with the dancing, then discovering clay and Rodin and Brancusi at art college, together with a general love of creating.

JC – Can you talk us through the stages of a commission?

SO – In most cases there’s a brief, which may be specific or not. I like to research the topic and then just let it all percolate, until something pops out onto the page. Occasionally it just comes, but often there’s a lot of tweaking and old-school photocopying, before I submit my design. I like to approach it by purely focusing on the design, before I figure out how I might make it. It’s not the most sensible way to go about it and can get you into trouble, but I find it works for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Examples of Shannon’s work

 

JC – Although you’re back in the UK these days, you lived in America for a number of years and worked in stop-motion animation. Wasn’t it quite a leap from silversmithing to working in the film industry? Were any of your silversmithing skills useful in such a diverse career?

SO – I’d just left college and was in need of some cash, when I got my first job in animation, working on Tim Burton’s, ‘Mars Attacks’. I think being able to solder was the main reason for being taken on, but my degree had taught such a broad range of skills, that it made it a perfect step into the world of puppet-making.

JC – And so you returned to the UK and are now working in conservation at Burghley House near Stamford, Lincolnshire, the grand Elizabethan home of the Cecil family. It must be amazing to work in a place and be surrounded by so many works of art.

SO – Yes, it’s a magical place to work. In addition to all the incredible works of art in the house, the beautiful gardens provide an abundant supply of nature – which is good for the soul and informs my work. I just have to remember to keep looking and trying to see it with fresh eyes.

 

The ‘Heaven Room’ contains the largest solid silver wine cooler in England – it’s tricky to get a sense of scale, but it’s seriously large enough to bath in.

 

JC – What’s the most unusual restoration request you’ve had while working at Burghley?

SO – One of the most challenging (not unusual) things was the conservation and repair of a Roman marble statue. It’s such an honour to be able to work so closely with such beautiful, historical pieces – to try and find the spirit of the original maker and leave it without making your mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy conserving one of the historical sculptures at Burghley House

 

JC – Although you’re busy at Burghley you still have time for silver. Tell us about a very special commission that was unveiled at The Victoria and Albert Museum in February 2017…

SO – Following an initial selection process last summer, I was lucky enough to be chosen, to design and make the 2017 ‘Randox Health Grand National Trophy.’ With just 12 weeks to make the 45cm tall trophy and three replica goblets, I needed to enlist some of the best silversmithing expertise available. Thanks to The Goldsmiths’ Company and Andy and Carl at Padgham and Putland, I’ve been able to work alongside and be mentored by some of the very best and most experienced silversmiths in the country. This piece would not exist without their immense input and for that I’m hugely grateful.

 

The 2017 Randox Health Grand National Trophy

 

JC – Do you receive many commissions to make jewellery? Is it something you enjoy or do you prefer larger-scale silversmith work?

SO – Yes, I often make jewellery, either by commissioning or making the work that often just wants to be made. It’s great to play with scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

left: Piercing out a bracelet / cuff; right: the finished piece

 

JC – What would you say to anyone thinking about silversmithing as a career?

SO – I’m not sure I should be giving career advice to anyone! Sometimes I think that you don’t choose your path, rather it chooses you. Life is too short to wonder ‘what if?’ If it’s something you think you might want to do, just have a go and enjoy the process. At some point you do have to decide how much you want it – if things are starting to work out and if it still excites you, then do it. Finding a great tutor is a help too!

JC – Shannon, it was a pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to speak to Jewel Citizen.

SO – The pleasure was mine.

To read more about Shannon’s work visit her website www.shannon-oneill.co.uk

“Sorry darling but you’re dumped.”

Under what circumstances should you return an engagement ring? Jewel Citizen explores this thorny subject.

Certain times of the year are thought of as being especially romantic, St Valentine’s Day without a doubt the most celebrated. We couldn’t really avoid it if we tried could we? Bouquets in the florist, cards in the supermarket, perfume adverts on television, romantic recipes in the Sunday supplement, and for those in love there’s a sense of expectation. How many times have we heard something along the lines of “I think my boyfriend might propose on St Valentine’s Day!”? Who hasn’t fantasised about the proposal, the romantic setting be it in Rome or Venice, and of course the sparkling ring…

And it used to happen thus: the lovers’ eyes share a knowing glance, he falters, she smiles encouragement, he takes a deep breath and slips his hand into a pocket, her heart skips a beat, he produces a ring box, her smile broadens, he drops down onto one knee, she wants to dance with joy, he asks her the burning question, she nods, he slips a diamond ring onto her finger, they kiss. Isn’t that how it goes in films? But of course these days we live in a more enlightened world and the two lovers preparing to tie the knot don’t necessarily need to be of the opposite sex.

Yet for those tortured souls who find themselves trapped in a less than satisfactory relationship St Valentine’s Day often acts as a catalyst for change. Will they ever make it up the aisle? Do they even want to bind themselves to another in (un)holy matrimony? Pent-up expectation builds as in the fermentation of champagne en triage when alcohol and carbon dioxide threaten an explosive release.

But what about a more metaphorical kind of pressure brought about by ‘the most romantic day of the year’? Or pressure brought about simply by a relationship going past it sell-by date. So, you want to get yourself out of a lacklustre romantic entanglement or marriage? Or perhaps your partner is the one who wants to cut and run? And the burning question is this: do you keep the ring or hand it back?

Now guys and girls, how would you handle a partner who demands the return of your engagement ring? Perhaps you’d willingly hand back a jewel that represented a failed romance? Or would the stubborn streak in you never even consider parting with something so precious?

Jewel Citizen spoke to two people whose relationships floundered around St Valentine’s Day and asked for their views. It was illuminating.

 

She just let go

“It really depends on how and why the break-up happened.” said Anonymous, 37, “I lived with a guy for 5 years and we only got engaged towards the very end, actually around the time when things were beginning to slide. We argued a lot; we found fault with each other. It was hard enough coping with living in the house he’d once shared with his ex-wife but then I found out by chance that my engagement ring was the same one worn by his ex. To top it all he completely forgot about St Valentine’s Day – that was the icing on the cake! For me it summed up everything that was wrong between us – I felt like an afterthought. The ring wasn’t a family heirloom or even very nice, just a small plain diamond solitaire. When I left him I was frankly glad to see the last of it. Handing it back with dignity was cathartic. It felt like the right thing to do.”

 

A tale of two paramours

Isabella, 29, has a different very take on the matter. “This must sound really terrible and to this day I don’t know how I got myself into such a sticky situation, but a couple of years ago I was engaged to two men at the same time. I was doing online dating and started to meet quite few men for casual dates. After a while it boiled down to two serious contenders. The hardest part was choosing one over the other and so for a few months I continued to see them both. Things got much more complicated though when they both proposed to me in the same week. It was sheer madness. Two men, two rings…

Everything came to a head pretty soon after that. I remember a dreadful scene one February evening when they both turned up at my block of flats at the same time. Somehow they must’ve talked and realised they’d both been duped because suddenly there was shouting and abuse directed from the street up towards my apartment window. One of them dashed a bouquet of roses against some wrought-iron railings, swearing as he did so. It was awful – so embarrassing and humiliating. God knows why but I threw one of my engagement rings out of the window in a fit of pique and it ended up rolling into the gutter and then down a storm drain. I kept the other one though, a beautiful Victorian pink diamond ring. Needless to say both relationships ended after that night. Should I have returned the pink diamond? Hmm…” Isabella falters only momentarily then smiles “but it was a gift. It was mine. I later sold it at one of the big London auction houses and used the money to go travelling.”

 

Jewel Citizen wishes neither to condemn nor condone Isabella’s behaviour. Every relationship break-up is unique and so it’s hard to make sweeping generalisations, however good manners would really suggest the following:

In nearly all cases an engagement ring is given as a conditional gift, meaning it’s given on the assumption that the recipient will marry the donor – if the donor of the gift breaks off the engagement then it’s perfectly acceptable for the recipient to keep the ring. If however on the other hand the recipient breaks off the engagement then they really should give it back.

A married woman whose relationship breaks down should feel it within her right to keep her engagement and wedding rings.

(The above is just an opinion on the subject and doesn’t take into account the legalities of the matter which of course may vary from country to country.)

 

Ruby – the ‘king of gemstones’

Jewel Citizen takes a look at this mythical blood-red stone

(photo courtesy of Woolley and Wallis)

 

Ruby is by far the most expensive of all the coloured gemstones – exceeded only in price per carat weight by rare blue, green, and pink diamonds – and has been coveted for millennia.

The stone of kings, and the king of stones

Ruby is a stone of legend. When we think of desire, romance, passion, anger, and fury we tend to associate the emotions generated with the colour red. Roses are red; we see red when we’re angry; the vital lifeblood coursing through our veins is red – the very colour of a ruby. Perhaps that’s why since ancient times this red mineral has been so highly revered – in ancient Sanskrit the ruby was called ratnaraj which translates as ‘king of precious stones’.

It is mentioned several times in the Bible – for example in the the Book of Proverbs where Job claims, “The price of wisdom is above rubies.”, and in Exodus where the ruby is noted as one of the stones visible in the high priest’s breastplate. Pliny the Elder mentions ruby in his ‘Natural History’ in which he refers to its hardness and density.

Burmese legends

A Burmese legend claims that about two thousand years ago a great dragon laid three eggs. From the first egg hatched the future King of Bagan, from the second an Emperor of China, and from the third came the gems and rubies of the Mogok Valley.

There was a such a strong belief in the stone’s metaphysical properties that a ruby was sometimes inserted into a warrior’s flesh so that it would protect him from harm when in combat.

 

The Glenlyon Brooch in the British Museum which dates from circa 1500 – 1530. This examples contains garnets, however rubies would also have been used in jewellery of this period.

 

Medieval European myths.

We can trace the etymology of the modern name ruby to the old French word rubi, back through Medieval Latin and rubinus lapis meaning ‘red stone’, to the Latin word rubeus meaning ‘red’. The belief in the supernatural powers of ruby that had persisted from ancient times continued through the Middle Ages and into the Early Modern Era. Henry VIII’s Spanish first wife Catherine of Aragon’s ruby ring allegedly lost its brilliance and colour as the Tudor monarch was preparing to reject her in favour of Anne Boleyn.

In another such example, the German author, Wolfgangus Gabelschoverus, writing in the year 1600, said whilst travelling with his wife: “I observed by the way that a very fine Ruby (which she had given me) lost repeatedly and each time almost completely its splendid colour and assumed a blackish hue.” After his wife died the stone apparently reverted to its original colour.

Rubies were used as widely as talismans, and for protection. They were thought to bestow the wearer with good health, success in love, and good fortune. Brooches were worn that contained magical inscriptions and gemstones to protect their owners. The Glenlyon Brooch in the photo above is inscribed with the names of the three wise men who visited the infant Christ, and their names would have been recited as a charm.

So what exactly is a ruby?

Ruby has the same chemical composition as sapphire – they are both the mineral corundum – but ruby owes its red colour to the inclusion of chromium oxide and occasionally to iron. It’s generally accepted that there needs to be 2% or more chromium present for a stone to be called a ruby, and even then it’s not an exact science. Iron can further modify the red colour, the effect of which can be seen for example in darker red Thai rubies.

Whilst corundum comes in many colours only red examples are termed ruby – all other shades are sapphire. That’s why sapphire comes not only in shades of blue, but also in fancy colours e.g. green, white, yellow, purple, and pink. Having said that, there’s some debate amongst gem dealers as to where the line crosses over between pink sapphires and rubies.

 

 

The photo above shows a Sri Lankan pink sapphire on the left, a ruby in the middle, and a pair of Mozambique rubies on the right. The difference in colour between the pink sapphire and the ruby in the middle is so slight that it’s difficult to see with an untrained eye.

 

Before modern gemological testing methods were invented rubies were often confused with other red stones, notably spinels and garnets. The Black Prince’s Ruby, a gift from the King of Castile to the Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1367, and now set into the Imperial State Crown, was thought to have been a ruby for centuries but is actually now recognised as a red spinel.

The Timur Ruby (also in the Crown Jewels) is another such imposter and was only discovered to be a spinel in 1851.

Why are some rubies more desirable than others?

As with all gemstones there are many reasons why one stone will be more desirable than another including origin, colour, clarity, cut, and size. Pigeon’s blood red is considered the best colour – a deep crimson, and Burmese mines have traditionally yielded the most outstanding examples, due in part to their low iron content which gives them a stronger fluorescence, and traces of vanadium which impart a pinkish-red hue. Rubies also come from mines in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Thailand, Afghanistan, and more recently from parts of Africa including Mozambique.

Extraordinarily large sums are paid for the best rubies. Sotheby’s in Geneva set a world record in May 2015 when they sold the 25.59 carat Burmese ‘Sunrise Ruby’ and diamond ring for CHF 28,250,000 (approximately $30,000,000). The existence of a stone of this size and one displaying the vividly saturated colour known as ‘pigeon’s blood red’ is thought to be quite miraculous.

 

Source: “Carmen Lúcia Ruby” by greyloch – under Creative Commons license

The 23.1 carat Carmen Lúcia Ruby in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, which was found in Mogok, Burma’s ‘Valley of Rubies’, in the 1930s

 

Mozambique – a 21st century source of rubies

The resource-rich country of Mozambique is a relatively new source of rubies, and with the Montepuez discovery in 2009 comes the world’s largest ruby deposit. The Montepuez Ruby Mine, in which London-based coloured-gemstone mining company Gemfields has a 75% stake, now accounts for approximately half the world’s supply.

Gemstone dealers and jewellers are rightly excited by the new source of material because many Mozambique rubies rival those found in Burma, although however some still prefer the ‘pedigree’ of Burmese material. Marcus McCallum, a gemstone dealer based in London’s Hatton Garden, said his personal preferences favour “the quality of the stone rather than being all about its ‘birth certificate’ – a beautiful ruby is a beautiful ruby, end of.”

Leading jewellers such as Bulgari, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels have begun to use Mozambique rubies in their creations, suggesting that it really is all about the intrinsic quality of the stone and not necessarily the origin.

 

Fabulous jewellery coming soon to auction

Jewel Citizen picks 4 opulent brooches

Summer is here – the air is warm, the sky is blue, and here at Jewel Citizen I’m getting all of a flutter about a number of jewellery auctions that’ll soon be taking place in the UK.

This coming week, on the 11th of July, it’s Sworder’s ‘Jewellery and Silver’ sale, shortly followed by Lawrences ‘Jewellery’ sale on the 13th of July, so no doubt I’ll have a busy viewing schedule. And a quick trip up to Knightsbridge, London is a must to see the jewellery being offered at Bonham’s on the 19th.

An event I really can’t wait to view and attend is Woolley and Wallis’s ‘Jewellery and Watches’ sale, which is happening on the 20th of July. It’s always a treat to receive one of their beautifully-illustrated catalogues, and I was delighted there was one waiting for me at home when I got back from a recent trip abroad. The jewellery to be offered is predominately antique, estate, and vintage, and at the more affordable end of the market than many of the pieces to be found in their ‘Fine Jewellery’ sales. Having said that I’m seeing many exquisite things in this catalogue and am sure the event will be a great success.

Confession time – I’ve got a bit of a ‘thing’ about brooches at the moment! A few years ago they were something you’d only really see on older women; I’d even go as far as to say that a lot of top quality inherited pieces found themselves unloved, unworn, and gathering dust. A friend of mine inherited her grandma’s jewels and left them in a bank vault for years. With tastes changing I’m sure a lot of you now feel very differently about the ultimate item of versatile jewellery.

So naturally I’m drawn to some of the vintage brooches in Woolley and Wallis’s upcoming sale. I’ve picked out just 4 of my favourites because it’d be hard to do justice to all the jewellery in such a short article.

The first one is a 19th century Egyptian-influenced scarab brooch pendant, shown above, comprising of a deer-headed mythical creature clutching two feathers, its wings with enamel decoration, and suspending three articulated scarabs. Estimate GBP 2,500 – 3,500. Such a dramatic piece, I’d feel like Cleopatra if I wore it.

A less spectacular but equally beautiful piece is the Regency gold and turquoise dove brooch shown below. Since ancient times doves have symbolised love and peace, and appear in the symbolism of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity. Turquoise is a stone often worn for luck. The bird carries in its beak a forget-me-not flower, and to the reverse is a glazed compartment containing hair. Estimate GBP 400 – 600. I’d attach this brooch to my hat, or perhaps to a sash – anywhere but the classic lapel! The possibilities are endless…

Lizards and salamanders were popular motifs in late Victorian jewellery and this particular example is a 10cm long multi-gem brooch, pavé-set all over in silver and gold with opals and diamonds, the head set with a circular-cut demantoid garnet, and ruby eyes.

Dating to the reign of George III is my final choice – an amethyst and diamond pendant brooch in gold and silver. With an estimate of GBP 600 – 800 it’d look fantastic securing a silk scarf, attached to an evening purse, or even against a hat.

To view these brooches and many other pieces of jewellery visit www.woolleyandwallis.co.uk

(photos courtesy of Woolley and Wallis)