The shock of the new: the best of Scandinavian and British contemporary jewellery

The Modern Made sale held by Lyon & Turnbull includes an outstanding selection of post-war jewellery by Copenhagen firm Georg Jensen.

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A Splash necklace in gold by Henning Koppel for Georg Jensen, £4000-6000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

Perhaps the most recognisable Scandinavian jewellery of the post-war era are the minimalistic and organic forms by Henning Koppel (1918-1981).

After living in exile during the war, he began working at Georg Jensen in his native Copenhagen 1945. He took his inspiration from abstract art producing designs that were innovative, modern and ice cool. Three consecutive gold medals at the Milan Triennial in 1951, 1954, and 1957 were his reward. 

Among Koppel’s best-known jewellery designs is the Amoeba and Splash series first issued in 1953. Included in the sale are an Amoeba bracelet and necklace in silver guided at £1500-2000, pictured below, and a Splash necklace in gold (above) that has an estimate of £4000-6000. The latter was purchased by the vendors in 1971 directly from Georg Jensen and comes in its fitted blue silk box with a blue velvet interior.

During the post-war years, when the price of silver was high and demand fell for hollowares and cutlery, Jensen employed artists to develop new styles that kept it at the vanguard of modern jewellery design for a generation. 

Six pieces by Koppel are joined by others by Arno Malinowski, Ibe Dahlquist, Bent Gabrielsen and six pieces by Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe (1927-2004). 

Torun’s sculptural work became particularly important for the firm, with her bangle wristwatches with their distinctive polished quartz 'domes' becoming some of the bestsellers of the 1960s. Two are included in the sale carrying guides of £800-1200, for the example with an elliptical bangle below and £600-800 for another with a circular bangle.

 

 

In British contemporary jewellery circles, the Sunderland-born designer Wendy Ramshaw (b.1939-2018) requires little by way of introduction. Largely self-taught, Ramshaw was first noticed in the 1960s when selling her colourful, flat-pack paper jewellery at Mary Quant’s London store Bazaar.

Her ‘stacking rings’ displayed on novel upright posts were developed around 1965 and eventually won her the Design Council Award for Innovation in 1972. They now feature in over 70 public collections worldwide. 

Another of Ramshaw’s most recognised designs is the 'Orbits' series of nickel alloy and black/white resin necklaces – the example above purchased from The Crafts Council Shop at the V&A in 1990 is pitched at £1200-1800 – while a rare neckpiece from 1982 made with gilt wire and blue and white jasper ware components supplied by the Wedgwood factory is £2000-3000. It was acquired directly from Wendy Ramshaw by the current vendor. 

From pottery by Hans Coper to furniture by John Makepeace, Lyon & Turnbull’s Modern Made auction at The Mall Galleries on October 23 brings to market important works from across the European design canon.

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