Newly honoured with an MBE, the artistic designer creates bold and beautiful jewellery
Brought up in an artistic, cultured household – her mother was an art lover and her grandmother owned a gallery in New York – Elizabeth Gage’s journey to jewellery design began as a child, when she amused herself making dolls’ houses and clothes and other items to play with.
As a teenager, she loved history and studied painting in London, before switching courses and training for six years as a goldsmith and diamond-setter. Her first major commission was in 1968 for Cartier in New York. It was a resounding success and Elizabeth went on to launch her own business. From her central London boutique, she soon established herself as one of Britain’s finest and most original contemporary goldsmiths.
Collected and worn by women and men worldwide (the pieces’ substantial sizes often appeal to men), Elizabeth’s jewellery is admired for its imaginative use of colour and gemstones.
She selects exquisite stones, ancient bronzes, beautiful carvings and Baroque pearls according to their individual beauty and whenever the shapes or colours inspire her. Like an artist with a palette, Elizabeth combines her gems with brightly coloured enamel and detailed goldwork to create bespoke pieces. Not governed by tradition, her jewels are an unorthodox expression of her creativity. Elizabeth’s theatrical designs are rich in history, like her yellow gold, diamond and enamel Zodiac band, decorated with mythical figures, or her Templar ring with its faceted pink sapphire. She has dedicated her sun ring to the Sun King Louis XIV and other designs recall the banners of 14th-century pageants. She is also captivated by Roman and Egyptian jewels. ‘They have always fascinated me and I adore the rich colour of their gold and the practical way they were made,’ she says.
Elizabeth was the first to coin the phrase ‘day into night’, following her philosophy that the same piece of fine jewellery can be worn on any occasion. ‘The Templar ring, for example, can be put on first thing in the morning but also hold its own at a very grand dinner,’ she explains. Few contemporary jewellers have had such
an impact on the industry.
Her avant-garde designs have won her awards and her Agincourt ring was described as ‘an engineering masterpiece’ when it won one of the coveted De Beers Diamonds International Awards in 1972.
Her Agincourt ring and Kiss pin now form part of the permanent jewellery collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This summer, Elizabeth was given an MBE by the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, in recognition of her artistry and contribution to
the industry. All jewels featuring the Elizabeth Gage insignia are handmade in Britain by highly skilled goldsmiths. Elizabeth no longer works at the bench but dedicates herself to creating beautiful wearable designs that are timeless statements of tradition and individuality. ‘I feel so privileged to have been able to make
my career doing what I love – making beautiful, unusual jewellery,’ she says.
ELIZABETH GAGE 5 WEST HALKIN STREET, LONDON SW1X 8JA +44 (0)20 7823 0100
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