At Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Arts and Crafts Museum

Aesthetic Jewellery

Aesthetic Jewellery


Designed by C R Ashbee and made by the Guild of Handicrafts around 1900.


Silver with gold wirework, pearl, garnets, almandines, tourmaline and amethyst. The soft mauves, purples and creamy pearl work well with the silver.


The back of this piece has been badly damaged but may have been a brooch, pendant or hair ornament.


It is likely that it would have had hanging pendant stones now missing below the amethyst.


Peacocks recur in Ashbee's designs and had significance for him as a symbol of the richness of colour and lavish craftsmanship of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Its combination of pride and 'fine feathers' makes it an apt image for jewellery - providing the wearer with beauty by association and a reminder of the sin of pride. There is also evidence, in a note written by Ashbee about a design by D S MacColl of a peacock and a fountain, that he was conscious of its role as a symbol of the Resurrection, and it seems likely that in his single-minded way he was referring to the resurrection of the crafts. This is a fairly modest example in comparison with the more luxurious peacocks made by the Guild. These items of jewellery varied considerably in technique of making, form and colour.


Facet-cut stones are traditionally set high within claws so that light can pass through the flat surfaces and create reflections. These stones have unusually been set with a continuous band of metal, called a bezel, which is drawn up and burnished over the edges to secure the stone.


It is curious that Ashbee has stipulated facet-cut garnets as he had declared in 1894 that garnets should always be en cabochon, a continuous soft dome shape to the gemstone.

Emery Walker AD 1