While the exhibition included pieces from as early as the 1890s, with the aim of reinvigorating the British jewellery trade after Second World War austerity, it is best remembered for the new work shown by the emerging breed of designers that helped put the swing into the Sixties.
Prior to the 1961 exhibition, each participant had been sent a matchbox full of wax to model a jewel with their ideas then cast into metal.
The results, often ingenious both in terms of form and in the novel treatment of materials, demonstrated the possibilities of jewellery as an art form and challenged the tradition that valuable gemstones were required to make fine jewellery.
Collectors in the current market are clamouring once more for pieces by British jewellers active in the 1960s-70s – the theme of a loan exhibition that runs at Lyon & Turnbull in London from November 27-December 18.
Stardust: The Art of British Jewellery in the 1960s features over 30 pieces made between 1960-69 by jewellers that came to define the post-war era such as Andrew Grima, John Donald, Tom Scott, Alan Gard and Gillian Packard. All are from one private collection.
The exhibition will be held following the sale of a small private collection of jewels by Grima (now the biggest brand name in Mod Brit jewellery) as part of Lyon & Turnbull’s Select Jewellery & Watches auction at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Mayfair, on November 21.
Four pieces will be offered, ranging from a pair of abstract and textured gold earflaps with diamond accents from 1986 (estimate £500-700) to a 1973 pendant/brooch set with a cluster of 20 brilliant-cut diamonds within flame-shaped yellow gold panels (£4000-6000).