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By de Syllas, Charlotte (British, contemporary)
Carved from black and white nephrite jade and pearls, this necklace by Charlotte de Syllas was commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Expertly hand-carved by renowned jewellery maker Charlotte de Syllas, this necklace was commissioned for the Pearl exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum curated by Beatriz Chadour-Sampson in 2013-14. Her principal material is exquisite gemstone, carved to showcase the ethereal beauty of the stones’ shapes and colours, with a sparing use of metals.
Here, natural seed pearls are spaced with carvings of white nephrite jade, with an insert of black nephrite jade at the back and an 18ct white gold catch. For this commission, de Syllas wanted to make a long rope necklace in wavy form, allowing the materials to guide her inspiration. She devised an intricate threading technique based on the ancient art of macramé, which allowed her to vary the lengths of threads by adding or subtracting a whole row or a single pearl. The resulting undulation gives a sense of movement and evokes the aquatic origins of the pearls and the forms of the jade carvings.
Although the carvings started out in a more figurative style, de Syllas ended by simplifying them into their essential form. This follows her tendency, throughout a long career, of moving from the naturalistic towards primary geometric forms. For her, these possess a hidden, intrinsic strength that is often vital to the delicate structure of her designs.
'The craft of carving is one of the oldest forms of art. The ancients were superb at working stone of all kinds. For me, it’s the wonderful range of colours that gemstone can offer which provides the inspiration. The perfection of a bright, clear crystal, millions of years old, is the most extraordinary wonder of nature! But sometimes it's the natural inclusions – the unique characteristics, often regarded as imperfections – which spark an idea, an image or a “story” that will inspire my handling of a stone and its finished design.’ – Charlotte de Syllas
The necklace sits in a specially made wooden box by Adrian Swinstead.
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