Antique and Contemporary Jewellery

Our first Special Interest Day of 2019 had been eagerly anticipated. Relatively recently, Joanna Hardy had given us a fascinating lecture on certain aspects of jewellery and this was the motivation behind booking these lectures and workshop. She is an independent fine jewellery specialist with over 35 years experience working in the jewellery industry. Having begun her career training as a goldsmith at Sir John Cass College, London she worked as a rough diamond grader for De Beer before becoming one of the first women to be a polished diamond dealer in Antwerp. She joined Philips the Auctioneers in London and then moved to Sotheby’s and was their senior jewellery specialist and auctioneer for fourteen years.

In the first morning session, she discussed how History and Fashion have influenced Jewellery Design. The French revolution of 1789 not only swept away the old regime, but also triggered a series of changes in habits, lifestyles, government, religion and calendar that were felt throughout Europe. Queen Victoria was expanding her wealthy empire and trade and commerce were flourishing both in France and England. The jewellery trade started to recover with the reversal of fortune and the exciting discoveries of ancient archaeological sites. The opportunities to travel meant that jewellery became an exciting addition to the ever increasing appetite for the new, the exotic and the unusual. This wealth of background gave us lots to consider and discuss over our coffee mid morning.

The second lecture of the morning explored the exciting world of Contemporary Jewellery 1960 – 2018. Joanna is the author of ‘Collect Contemporary Jewelry’ and is passionate about introducing newcomers to the delights of buying from craftsmen today. She began this part of the morning with the revolutionary 1960’s and discussed the importance of new materials coming into the design world such as acrylic (fashionable again today) as well as titanium. Then Joanna progressed to exploring value, quality and design in today’s marketplace. She gave some wonderful and inspiring illustrations of how forgotten or unloved jewels can be transformed into jewellery that can be worn and enjoyed oncemore.

After lunch the afternoon session took the form of a workshop focusing on How to get the most from your Jewellery. Her enthusiasm for this consultancy seminar was matched by that of our members. Joanna appears regularly on the Antiques Roadshow as a jewellery specialist and our members enjoyed the opportunity to participate in their very own version of the programme. Several members had brought their own jewels along to be assessed as to their value or to discuss the possibilities of having them altered if this was appropriate. Joanna volunteered to take two pieces away with her for further analysis. Both members were very pleased to agree to this – once the necessary paperwork was completed.

As the afternoon session drew to a close, everyone agreed the day had lived up to their expectations and been thoroughly enjoyable. In her vote of thanks, Derek put our thoughts into words. Not only had we gained so much knowledge but we would be able to appreciate jewellery in even more ways.