Lovers of characterful contemporary jewellery that’s as much art as adornment (intricately engraved brooches with bold narratives, rings that glint with playfulness) will be delighted by the touring exhibition that touches down this month at London’s Contemporary Applied Arts. This solo show of work by jeweller Barbara Christie presents a truly amazing collection of pieces – new and old – that the low-profile artist has been quietly creating since moving to London from her native Amsterdam in 1969.
Christie’s distinctive style and techniques are showcased in this retrospective, which brings together for the first time key pieces from private collections and her own archives, while displaying entrancing new designs for sale. Sculptural shapes, tactile surfaces and a sense of movement characterise designs that repay close inspection to unearth their stories. Dramatic new pieces focus on the natural world. A magnificent citrine ring is carved into a lioness’ head, with three brown diamonds set in her collar (first picture, £5,800). A carved opal eagle peers out from an 18ct gold and sterling-silver ring, closely guarding an oval boulder opal (second picture, £5,500). An 18ct gold peacock decorated with a Mexican fire opal perches on a gold and sterling-silver brooch with a faceted tourmaline (third picture, £2,800).
The show’s curator, Karen Sarkissian, co-director of Contemporary Applied Arts and sister venue Electrum Gallery, is particularly taken by the personality of these exquisite creations. “Barbara Christie’s work defies description, as each piece is crafted with a uniquely sourced stone from some far-flung destination and beguiles you with wit and charm from the moment you glimpse it.”