When it comes to high end jewellery being sold by/at an upmarket auction house, you hardly find pieces designed or created by Black jewelry designers up for sale and that’s a sad reality these creators have had to deal with. In a time where works by BIPOC are being put in the front and highlighted more, after many many years of being relegated to the cultural aisle so to speak, Sothebys is gearing up for a first of its kind exhibition around the great work of Black jewelry designers, curated in partnership with celebrated writer, author and stylist Melanie Grant. “Brilliant and Black: A Jewelry Renaissance” is a selling exhibition set to take place in New York.
Sotheby’s will stage the selling exhibition dedicated to showcasing the extraordinary skill, imagination and craftsmanship of Black jewelry designers. On view and open to the public in New York from September 17–26, Brilliant and Black: A Jewelry Renaissance will feature approximately 60 pieces by 21 of the world’s leading Black jewelry designers, including custom-made jewels and signature designs spanning a range of periods and styles from the 1950s to the present day. The selling exhibition — the most ambitious to date — presents a selection of jewels of exceptional artistry, quality and historical importance, with prices ranging from $1,500 to $1 million, for a custom made ring piece by Maggi Simpkins.
Pioneers in the history of jewellery design such as Art Smith who passed away in 1982 and Winifred Mason Chenet, a mentor to Smith are among the artists represented in the Sotheby’s selling exhibition and they are joined by a global pool of critically acclaimed creatives, namely Harwell Godfrey, Jacqueline Rabun, Johnny Nelson, Lorraine West, Rashid Johnson (his collaboration with LIZWORKS), Thelma West, VANLELES, Castro NYC, ALMASIKA, Marei New York, MATEO New York, Matturi Fine Jewellery, Melanie Eddy Jewellery, Sheryl Jones Jewels, Ten Thousand Things, Lola Fenhirst, Jariet Oloyé, Maggi Simpkins and Shola Branson.
“This show represents a shift in thinking from ‘African inspired’ to Black talent being the inspiration. I think we’ll look back at this moment as a game changer, amplifying the often overlooked and sometimes under-appreciated talents and stories of Black jewelry designers.” —Melanie Grant
Artist Rashid Johnson’s 9-karat ‘Anxious Men’ gold cuff bracelet(pictured above) with rhodium engraving, red enamel, and five rubies, part of his collaboration with jewelry brand LIZWORKS will be part of the selling exhibition gold cuff from “Anxious Men,” with a price of $18,500. Nigerian born, London based Thelma West‘s Rebel Black ring with a 5-carat pear shaped diamond has a price tag of $400,000. Catherine Sarr founder of ALMASIKA’s Universum bangle is included for $24,000. Lauren Harwell Godfrey’s brand Harwell Godfrey has a piece called Cleopatra’s Vault Pendant and Snake Foundation Chain priced at $115,050. You can view some of the other pieces that are part of the Sotheby’s “Brilliant and Black: A Jewelry Renaissance” selling exhibition below.
“Sotheby’s is enormously proud to be involved in such a momentous project and to highlight the compelling stories of the individual designers. We are delighted that this first exhibition will contribute to revealing their talents and contributions to the art of jewelry to a wider audience.” —Frank Everett, Sotheby’s director of jewelry
The Brilliant and Black: A Jewelry Renaissance selling exhibition is on view at Sotheby’s New York galleries (1334 York Avenue) from September 17–26. Pieces available for immediate purchase online at Sotheby’s Buy Now online marketplace or in-person from September 17 to October 10.
pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Founder and Editor, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.