Marriage, English Style

The Goldsmiths’ Company of London recently wrapped up a celebration of love, in the form of an exhibit spotlighting wedding-related precious-metal jewelry and gifts. Entitled “Love Story,” the exhibit—featuring both antique and contemporary pieces—ran from May 29 through July 12 in the opulent confines of Goldsmiths’ Hall.

Amanda Stücklin, press officer for the Goldsmiths’ Company, says the show was extremely successful. “Some 7,500 attended and the overall response was ‘love at first sight,’ ” she says, noting that exhibit curator Paul Dyson was pleased with the result. Viewer feedback praised the exhibits’ theme, contents, and presentation, and one attendee even noted that it was “a marvelous way to start [her] hen day”—”hen day” being an English term comparable to the American “bridal shower.”

The items on show represented four decades—the 1890s, the 1920s, the 1960s, and the current decade. The Goldsmiths’ Company also commissioned 17 anniversary-related pieces specifically for the exhibit. Wedding dresses, jewels, even a Harrods catalogue from the 1890s all helped to highlight the changing tastes and common sentiments that ran through each decade in regard to weddings.

The Harrods catalogue was one of many items displayed with the 1890s pieces. One popular item of that era was the tiara, and a spectacular example was on view in the form of the Castle Howard tiara—a floral-inspired and diamond-encrusted piece designed by Cartier.

The more sedate jewels of the ’20s formed an interesting counterpoint to the carefree dresses and jewels of the Beatles era. Some of the contemporary pieces, while unconventional, still displayed the sentiment of the occasion for which they were meant. At first glance, a wedding ring and pendant designed by British artist and goldsmith Kevin Coates looks unlike any wedding-related jewelry seen before. The pendant (a winged head of Medusa with turquoise eyes and open mouth) and the ring (an eagle with outstretched wings encircling an carved opal) are initially disconcerting—but closer inspection reveals the words “Pour toujours” (“For always”) and the wedding date of the couple for whom they were made.

Other pieces by contemporary jewelry designers, including Theo Fennell and Elizabeth Gage, also were on view.

For details on the next big event to be held at Goldsmiths’ Hall, see “London Hosts Annual Goldsmiths’ Fair,” in this month’s Trade Shows section.