Acquisitions: Supporting Contemporary Makers


As the Company moves towards the celebration of its 700th anniversary in 2027, its pioneering support for contemporary makers through competitions, acquisitions and commissioning plays an important part in enhancing the vitality of design and craftsmanship in silver, jewellery and art medals into the 21st century.


Acquisitions 2020-21

Supporting contemporary makers

This report describes the Company’s acquisitions - gifts, commissions and purchases--over one challenging year, from April 2020 to April 2021. In the midst of a global pandemic, the Company reassessed and strengthened its priorities as the Charity gave significant financial help to makers facing hardship.

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Our objective in the Curatorial team was twofold: to support makers as best we could through acquisitions, and to raise the profile of the Collection online to help to build a stronger sense of community. These demanded new skills, strategies and collaborations within the Company and beyond.

The results can be seen in this report.  Completed commissions in this challenging year include Martin Keane’s subtle carafe and Patrick Davison’s exquisite mixed metals box, two fine portrait medals and a richly-carved Court Cup by Ingo Henn. Our purchases were also significant, whether a single dramatic ring by newcomer Emefa Cole or a group of significant work specially chosen and made for us by the great Scottish maker and teacher, Dorothy Hogg. But what was truly astonishing was how, even in these demanding times, generous gifts to the Collection flew in during lockdown. In part that was inspired by our first digital exhibitions, The Brooch Unpinned and Designs on Silver, both of which were accompanied by online public programmes.

These helped to tell stories about the Collection to a younger, global audience, as well as stimulating makers to give us design drawings or models for pieces in the Collection and even star objects, such as Kevin Coates’s "Touch of Midas" brooch on stand from 2012. Many of these slotted straight into our collaborative exhibition with the Goldsmiths’ Centre, The Brooch Unpinned [March -August 2021] and its accompanying book, published in June 2021.  Superb donations which extend the international significance of the Collection came to us from America through the advocacy of Associate Member Helen W.Drutt English of work by Marjorie Schick and Eleanor Moty. 

Our ambitious plans to digitise the Company’s collections will eventually allow us to make them available online through our website to show who we are and what we do. Our online exhibitions are merely tasters for what we hope to share as we approach our 700th anniversary in 2027. 

Dr Dora Thornton
Curator of the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection

Gifts to the Collection: Decanter, Marjorie Schick

1983, 925 sterling silver
Gift of Professor James Schick,
through the advocacy of Helen W.
Drutt English.

Decanter, Marjorie Schick, 1983

"She accepted the challenge and this piece was the outcome…The decanter, she came to understand, earned her acceptance as a peer."

The unmarked silver decanter demonstrates how Schick, having trained as a silversmith at Indiana University, never lost her interest in precious metals. From 1982, when her work was first exhibited in Europe at the British Crafts Centre, London was important for her development as an artist. This is the last and most important piece to be made in London, when she was a visiting lecturer at Sir John Cass School of Art. It is the only example of her silversmithing in a British public collection.

The donor, Professor Schick, comments: “Marjorie signed up to take classes at the Sir John Cass in London. In view of her current work in dowel and paper, the fellows suggested that they’d like to see what she could do in metal…She had the impression they believed she would fail. You know the cliché that modern artists can’t draw, that’s why they make abstract work. She accepted the challenge and this piece was the outcome…The decanter, she came to understand, earned her acceptance as a peer. Marjorie knew many of her contemporaries in London. She returned to the Cass as a visiting lecturer, and she taught at Middlesex Polytechnic in 1991 during another sabbatical. The people at the British Crafts Centre knew her well and treated her as one of theirs. I know she would be honoured to be in the company of Wendy [Ramshaw] and the others at Goldsmiths’ Hall.”

Micromosaic box, Patrick Davison

2020, 925 sterling silver
and mixed metal copper

Micromosaic box, Patrick Davison, 2020

"The production of the tiles entails a painstaking process of soldering different metals together, rolling them into a sandwich and drawing this down into tiny square tubes."

Patrick Davison is inspired by Venetian Renaissance glassmaking, especially the millefiori technique which he imitates in metals. He has a European focus and the mixed metal aesthetic of Paduan goldsmith Stefano Marchetti is a major influence. Davison was commissioned to produce a small hinged box which could be held in the hand, featuring the micromosaic technique he developed, and incorporating silver, bronze, brass, copper and nickel silver. The box is constructed from eight separate panels, each formed from a series of tiny square micromosaic tiles which have been soldered together.


The production of the tiles entails a painstaking process of soldering different metals together, rolling them into a sandwich and drawing this down into tiny square tubes; eight square tubes together form a cuboid bar which is sliced to form the miniature tiles. The process, which demands extreme attention to detail and takes several weeks, yields astonishing results. The different metals compress at different rates, and the completed tiles are a glorious small-scale riot of fluid shapes of varied colours, all neatly contained within a geometric grid. The commission also included a mentoring session with silversmith Ray Walton, a specialist box-maker and Freeman of the Company.

Purchases: ‘Caldera’ ring, Emefa Cole

2020, Oxidised silver, gold leaf

‘Caldera’ ring, Emefa Cole, 2020

"...landscape and geological processes, erosion and the passing of time, combined with the memories and indelible impressions left by her childhood in Ghana."

Emefa Cole is a bold and experimental jeweller who uses the age-old technique of lost wax casting to realise her compelling sculptural designs. Cole’s distinctive and highly accomplished work exemplifies her interest in landscape and geological processes, erosion and the passing of time, combined with the memories and indelible impressions left by her childhood in Ghana. Her dedication to researching and learning her craft gives her jewels a striking integrity; she has studied the traditional goldsmithing techniques of the Ashanti kingdom with the royal goldsmith to the Asantehene.

The ‘Caldera’ ring, from Cole’s Vulcan series, is inspired by the void created by a volcanic eruption. Luxurious, considered, heavy on the hand, it exploits the contrast between the rugged gold interior of the bezel and the flawless oxidized silver surface of the band. It is a statement piece and is a pleasure to wear.

Watch the video of 'Emefa Cole In the Workshop' which features the making of the Caldera Ring purchase. Click the button below:

Purchases: ‘Moon Brooch A’, Kayo Saito

2020, 18ct gold textured leaves soldered and
pinned to Vietnamese marble

‘Moon Brooch A’, Kayo Saito, 2020

"...He saw the moon in China and thought about his hometown view of the moon over a mountain in his neighborhood in Japan."

The striking and luxurious combination of white Vietnamese marble and gold represents a new departure for Saito. The theme of the brooch is nostalgia for one’s homeland, as expressed in a classic poem [Waka] of Abe no Nakamaro (698–770 AD), scholar and civil servant in Japan, who was appointed to the Japanese embassy to Tang China in 717 AD. He never returned home. Saito, who was born in Japan but now lives in England, explains: “He saw the moon in China and thought about his hometown view of the moon over a mountain in his neighborhood in Japan. As I am away from my country, I strongly share this kind of feeling. I was imagining the moon over trees and leaves.”

The brooch speaks to the experience of separation and loss during the pandemic of 2020–21. The piece is exquisitely made. No glue is used in its making; the leaves are soldered to each other, then pinned through to the back to hold the marble in place. Each leaf is differently-shaped, forged and hammered from a sheet of gold to suggest delicate organic forms.