Friday, July 23, 2010

Elizabeth Gage, Jeweller Extraordinaire

the very English, black panelled traditional facade of the Elizabeth Gage shop, 18 Albemarle Street London

Elizabeth Gage has designed magnificent jewellery for 4 decades. Her exceptionally beautiful jewellery designs evoke the past and are highly original. They are unlike the offerings of any other design house. Each piece has a distinctive style, mood, or personality. They aren’t just stones and precious metal assembled for the sake of looking rich. They are pieces of art and sculpture in themselves, but ones that are elegant and flattering to wear. If one considers the designs of Ms. Gage of past years, nothing looks dated, and they remain very appealing. The beauty, taste, quality, originality, and craftsmanship would put her in the company of Jean Schlumberger, Verdura, and Donald Claflin. Ms. Gage adores colour, and it is a pleasure to view her vivid, joyful jewels.

I was happy to have the opportunity to discuss design, adornment, and jewels with Elizabeth Gage of London.

We live in more casual, less formal times. In what way are your designs are appropriate for today? They are very wearable, both during the day and at night. People treasure my designs and want to wear them all the time, for each person they make their own individual statement.

Which of your designs are you most proud of? They are all my children and I love them all.

How has antiquity influenced your designs? Very much so, when I was a young girl I went to many museums and at an unconscious level I absorbed everything I saw and now it appears in my designs.

What historic era or style of jewellery most appeals to your sense of the aesthetic? There are many eras that appeal. The Greek and Egyptian was an early love, then came the Medieval and Renaissance with their bold setting and intricate designs. Catherine the Great was also very inspirational.

The Kiss pin – cabochon Mandarin garnet, cabochon yellow beryl, diamonds, pearls and tangerine enamelThe Mary Tudor pin - a Mary 1st silver coin, 1554, 2 brown tourmalines one checkerboard cut and the other faceted, rubies, diamonds and semi baroque pearls; with a magnificent, very rare chocolate coloured checkerboard cut tourmaline (54.9cts)

Which of your designs are the most popular? Would you say that you have a signature piece?
There are several pieces that are both popular and signature pieces, for example my Kiss Pins, my Templar Rings and my whimsical parrots.

The Terrible Twins – earrings with peridot parrot heads, coral beaks, gold leaf design with enamel; motifs exhibit left and right orientation

Can you give some examples of jewellery or materials that are flattering, and enhancing complexion? Chalcedony looks wonderful against the skin and naturally pearls are always complimentary.

Please tell me a bit about your use of hammered finishes. Having studied as a Goldsmith originally the finishing of the gold work on my pieces is very important to me, the texture of the gold is an integral part of every design.

Your jewellery seems to be in predominantly a classic, rich, high carat gold colour. What is your opinion of the soft, faded, barely yellow gold that some designers of today use? It is not for me however I believe it is more interesting and important that designers do things differently and follow their own path.

Who are some jewellery designers you have admired? Jean Schlumberger, Verdura, early David Webb, Boivin, some early Marina B and of course Claflin.

What is your opinion of the designs of Robert Goossens? When I was younger I bought some of his pieces because I loved them.

Who are fashion designers whose work you admire? Early YSL, especially his use of colour and I loved his Russian collection. Balenciaga for the way his clothes hung and Valentino.

On the web pages for your designs, there is a photo of you wearing clear, bright lipstick and brilliant turquoise jewellery, and the effect is lovely. Why do you think many women are so afraid of colour? I have often wondered why, I like colour with my clothes, my home, and my jewels.

What are some mistakes women make in the way they wear their jewellery? Sometimes too afraid of colour and size. Sometimes women need to break the habit of always being safe.

Elizabeth Gage wearing her bold, gold jewellery

Do you think that different pieces being worn should in some way relate to each other? Yes, but it does not need to be a matched set, variety to me is more interesting.

What are 3 pieces of jewellery that you consider indispensable? Earrings, rings and everything else!!

What type or pieces of jewellery would you recommend for a woman on a limited budget? Begin with a ring, and that will set the tone for the rest, which will quickly follow!

How does your point of view transfer to other aspects of your life and your design choices, such as your china, silverware, stationary, clothing, interior décor of your home? I only buy what I love and you can be sure it is full of colour.

How do you feel about the loss of old British crafts such as those of the silver, textile, and ceramics industries? Very sad, however I think in this mass produced world people are now seeing the value of craftsmanship and I see a Renaissance on the horizon.

Your designs are only available from your shop in London or at a few showings abroad. How important do you think exclusivity or limited production is in maintaining prestige? I do not do it for prestige, I do it this way to maintain quality. I see all my pieces before they go on sale, and often several times during the making process. This would become impossible if I was to mass produce.

Would you ever consider a short term run, limited edition, mass produced item for a company such as Target, or tiny, solid perfume container for a prestige company, so that a wider range of the public and perhaps young women or students could experience your designs in the way that Karl Lagerfeld designed for H & M? Maybe, this could be fun.

Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your inspirations and ideas about jewellery and design. It was a delight!

interior of the London salon, design by Elizabeth Gage; family heirlooms include pieces of furniture, the 18th century French lantern, and oil paintings by her mother and grandmother, airy white Brighton Pavilion chairs add garden freshness to the room , additional pieces of antique furniture and mirrors were selected by Elizabeth; she wanted the interior to feel comfortable and welcoming like her private drawing room rather than a store and indeed it does when compared with the slick showrooms of Cartier that conform to a uniform, corporate style around the world

Elizabeth selected the soft, sage green wallpaper with an over scale William Morris-like cornflower or carnation motif

Images and jewellery designs are copyright of Elizabeth Gage.

Many thanks to Zoë Simpson, Chief Executive, Elizabeth Gage Ltd. for arranging this interview and supplying extra information


  1. What an enchanting interview with a
    magical lady, talented in her tranquilly
    elegant shop decor and the bold
    seduction of jewelry. Beautifully
    arranged, Mr.Square with Flair.
    Wish I was there.

  2. What a wonderful interview! The jewellery is just wondeful.