Goldsmiths’ Fair has been the leading British selling exhibition for collectors to meet and commission top jewellers and silversmiths for over 30 years, and some would argue that it has not changed much in that time. Until this year. The great, gilded venue of the Goldsmiths’ livery hall is the same but the setting has been given a new, contemporary look with plain, white, uncluttered stands and a more spacious, gallery-style ambience. The genius move, however, is in asking a design-world figure to curate a personal selection, and here the organisers have hooked a very big fish indeed – Dame Zaha Hadid.
The architect, whose mould-breaking work has made her a household name, was given free rein to select from the 170 jewellers and silversmiths whose work is on display. Her choice will fascinate collectors, not just for the light it sheds on the taste of such an important opinion-former, but for its potential effect on the jewellers’ profiles and pockets – Dame Zaha is understood to have enquired about prices, indicating a more than professional interest. The 21 pieces she has chosen are wide-ranging, from top names like Hannah Martin (diamond ring, £21,200, first picture), William Cheshire (silver cuff, £1,250), Ute Decker (textured-gold earrings, £2,600, third picture) and Jo McDonald (porcelain and rough-diamond ring, £415), to new graduate Heather McDermott (wirework necklace, £700).
Some pieces, such as Martin, Decker and new exhibitor Jennifer Saker’s amazing gold cat’s-cradle ring (£4,800, second picture), are suitably architectural, while the work by Saker and Sarah Herriot (silver ring, £470) has been developed using digital technology that may well appeal to Hadid’s high-tech sensibilities. The Fair opens on September 22 for two weeks, with a changeover of designers between the weeks. It’s only problem is how to follow this choice of curator next year.