Brooch-Pendant

1969 (made)
Brooch-Pendant thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 1960s a group of jewellers based in London were in many ways ahead of their time. Working within the mainstream market for precious jewellery, they experimented with contemporary designs and materials. They explored new methods of applying gold and devised unconventional shapes for settings.

For women in high society this jewellery offered a new way of expressing wealth and status. What counted was creative expression and individuality, not big flashy stones and material values. Diamonds were no longer the only gemstone to be a 'girl's best friend'.

John Donald's first professional experience as a jeweller began when he studied at the Royal College of Art (1952-56). The modern movements in architecture, sculpture and painting led him to see jewellery as a form of art. Jewellery was no longer a decorative accessory. Donald's jewellery developed into abstract sculptural expressions, which he created through innovative methods of treating metals and integrating asymmetrical natural minerals. He tested the boundaries of heat, and often misused flames to create his trademark visual effects and textured surfaces. The stones in their fine wire settings often appear to float in space.

His career took off in 1960 and in 1961 he showed his work in the groundbreaking International exhibition of Modern Jewellery at Goldsmiths' Hall. By 1964 HRH Princess Margaret and HRH Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother became patrons of his work.

This brooch was made by embedding a honeycomb in a can of plaster, leaving a hole to drain the wax away. When the plaster is heated, the wax honeycomb melts, leaving a perfectly formed cavity into which molten gold can be poured. When the gold sets, the plaster can be broken away, leaving an exact copy of the original object. This technique took Donald and his assistant two years to perfect. It became the basis for a series of honeycomb jewels.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cast gold set with diamonds, cabochon citrines and Mexican fire opals
Brief Description
Brooch/Pendant in the form of a honey comb, by John Donald, London 1969, gold, diamonds and fire opals
Physical Description
Large pendant in the form of a golden honeycomb, with two gems mounted as drops of honey, and a jewelled bee with diamond-set wings lower centre. The gold on the rim and edges of the hexagonal cells is polished, the recessed areas are matt.
Dimensions
  • Height: 8.3cm
  • Width: 5.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Marks for John Donald, London, 1969 and 18 carat gold
Credit line
Given by Joan Hurst through Art Fund
Subjects depicted
Summary
In the 1960s a group of jewellers based in London were in many ways ahead of their time. Working within the mainstream market for precious jewellery, they experimented with contemporary designs and materials. They explored new methods of applying gold and devised unconventional shapes for settings.



For women in high society this jewellery offered a new way of expressing wealth and status. What counted was creative expression and individuality, not big flashy stones and material values. Diamonds were no longer the only gemstone to be a 'girl's best friend'.



John Donald's first professional experience as a jeweller began when he studied at the Royal College of Art (1952-56). The modern movements in architecture, sculpture and painting led him to see jewellery as a form of art. Jewellery was no longer a decorative accessory. Donald's jewellery developed into abstract sculptural expressions, which he created through innovative methods of treating metals and integrating asymmetrical natural minerals. He tested the boundaries of heat, and often misused flames to create his trademark visual effects and textured surfaces. The stones in their fine wire settings often appear to float in space.



His career took off in 1960 and in 1961 he showed his work in the groundbreaking International exhibition of Modern Jewellery at Goldsmiths' Hall. By 1964 HRH Princess Margaret and HRH Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother became patrons of his work.



This brooch was made by embedding a honeycomb in a can of plaster, leaving a hole to drain the wax away. When the plaster is heated, the wax honeycomb melts, leaving a perfectly formed cavity into which molten gold can be poured. When the gold sets, the plaster can be broken away, leaving an exact copy of the original object. This technique took Donald and his assistant two years to perfect. It became the basis for a series of honeycomb jewels.
Bibliographic Reference
John Donald and Russell Castleton Elliott, Precious Statements, 2015, p.141
Collection
Accession Number
M.14-2006

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record createdJanuary 9, 2008
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