This bracelet is an early example of Barbara Cartlidge’s work, where she chose to emphasise the natural form of the gemstones.
The form of this piece is reminiscent of many Danish jewellery designs of the period who were renowned for their silverwork and use of uncut gemstones.
Born in Berlin, Barbara Cartlidge (1922-2017) arrived in Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany.
She studied jewellery at London’s Central School of Arts and Crafts. Her solo exhibition at Heal’s department store in 1960 brought her to public attention attracting interest from magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Cartlidge later went onto embrace a new wave in jewellery design, creating avant-guard art pieces.
The Modernist jewellery movement took longer to develop in Britain. Post-war recovery was slow. A tax on luxury goods and limited access to raw materials meant that production focussed on traditional pieces for the export market. It was almost a decade before British designers embraced the simplicity of the new movement.
It wasn’t until the early 1960s that a prominent British Modernist style emerged from the jewellery studios of London. Designers such as Andrew Grima, Charles De Temple, John Donald and David Thomas pioneered methods of melting and transforming gold and other precious metals into abstract forms which embraced both shape and texture. Inspired by natural forms, they also drew on the artistic trends in Brutalist architecture and abstract modernist art, as well as popular culture.