Bold and ingenious bespoke jewellery for people who love beauty
Elizabeth Gage made her first ring from an ounce of gold given to her by her mother. From this small beginning, she started a long and distinguished career and established herself as one of Britain’s finest contemporary jewellers and goldsmiths, receiving many accolades and awards along the way.
Brought up in an artistic and cultured house – her mother was an art lover and her grandmother owned her own gallery in New York – Elizabeth loved history as a teenager and initially studied painting in London, before switching courses and training as a goldsmith and diamond-setter. That was over 50 years ago in the early 1960s, long before it was popular for women to have professional careers. After her first commission from Cartier in New York, in 1968, Elizabeth went on to launch her own business, creating highly original bespoke jewels from her central London boutique, which inspired many other female entrepreneurs to follow suit.
Collected and worn by women and men throughout the world, her jewellery is admired for its imaginative use of colour and gemstones. Elizabeth’s approach to design is as unique and avant-garde as the jewels themselves. Exquisite stones, ancient bronzes, beautiful carvings and Baroque pearls are selected according to their unique beauty. She explains: ‘In some way, the stones tell me what to do with them and I listen.’
Her background shines through in her work: she uses precious stones as an artist would use their palette, combining them with brightly coloured enamel and detailed goldwork to create individual and highly personalised pieces. Not governed by tradition, her jewels are an unorthodox expression of her unique creativity.
Her love of history is also evident in her work. Gage’s theatrical designs are rich in history, recalling banners of 14th-century pageants and Louis XIV-style dramatics. Her yellow gold, enamel and diamond Zodiac band decorated with mythological astronomy figures is typical, as is her chunky Templar ring which holds a faceted pink sapphire. Their substantial sizes often appeal to men, too.
Few contemporary jewellers have had such an impact on the industry. Her innovative designs have garnered her various awards – her Agincourt ring was described as ‘an engineering masterpiece’ when it won the coveted De Beers Diamonds International Award in 1972. The ring, and another of her designs, the Kiss pin, now form part of the permanent jewellery collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. ‘One of the most distinctive voices in contemporary jewellery,’ is how Richard Edgcombe, Senior Curator of Jewellery at the V&A, has described her. Other awards include the prestigious Queen’s Award for Export, British Jewellery Designer of the Year, and she is a Freeman of the City of London as well as a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.
Inspiration for Elizabeth’s distinctive designs are found everywhere and take many forms: whether that be gardens, paintings, architecture, museums or animals, Elizabeth assimilates ideas from her surroundings, all of which influence her work and design ideas. As she says: ‘Objects inspire me on an unconscious level – it can be days or months later that an idea for a jewel will pop into my head.’
Her philosophy that fine and exquisite jewellery can be worn ‘from day into night’ guides her distinctive approach. In fact, she was the first to coin this phrase. Elizabeth also enjoys the challenge of working with stones and other heirlooms belonging to her clients, breathing new life to unworn jewels by designing something new and different, working with inherited pieces to enable them to be worn in a contemporary way without losing their sentimental importance.
Elizabeth always strives towards creating something ‘timeless and unique’ and this is reflected in her designs. ‘We bring the past into the present,’ she states, ‘and make it wearable.’
ELIZABETH GAGE 5 WEST HALKIN STREET, LONDON SW1X 8JA +44 (0)20 7823 0100