Eggs are so versatile – you can poach, fry, boil or scramble them. Better still you can turn them into whimsically beautiful ornamental works of art.
Our September 24 Fine Art Jewellery and Silver Auction features nine Stuart Devlin eggs, and such is their desirability Hansons’ head of jewellery Helen Smith is sorely tempted to bid for one herself.
She has more reasons than one to admire his work. The late Stuart Devlin is one of the world’s most well-respected silversmiths and goldsmiths of the 20th Century. A likeable Australian, he worked in the UK – and mentored Helen.
She was taught jewellery design by Devlin after gaining a coveted place at London’s New Goldsmiths Centre – and he inspired her. She adored his use of texture, imagination and ingenuity. Consequently, when Devlin items come to auction, she is agog with admiration when handling his intriguing creations.
The history of jewelled decorative eggs, with a hidden surprise inside, goes back to the House of Fabergé in St Petersburg, Imperial Russia. Possibly as many as 69 were created, of which 57 survive today. Virtually all were manufactured under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé between 1885 and 1917. They were made for Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers.
Fast forward to the 20th century and in 1965, Devlin moved to London and opened a small workshop. This marked the beginning of Devlin’s unique style, which often took the form of limited editions, the most popular being Easter eggs and Christmas boxes, now collectors' items. He adapted and devised new techniques to produce a wide variety of textures and filigree forms, and became well known in London’s West End, producing a new collection each year. He had a prestigious showroom in Conduit Street from 1979 to 1985.
Find our catalogues at www.hansonslive.co.uk - Sept 24 Fine Art Catalogue due live September 10
In 1966 a Devlin fine silver sculpture was commissioned by Ford of Britain to celebrate the release of the new Mk IV Ford Zephyr and Zodiac range of vehicles.
He designed furniture, interiors, jewellery and commissioned pieces of all types, including trophies, clocks, centrepieces, goblets, candelabra, bowls and insignia. Among his most popular commissions, Devlin also designed coins and medals for 36 countries throughout the world, including precious coins for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and medals for the founding awards of the Australian honours system.
In 1982, he was granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment as Goldsmith and Jeweller to the Queen. His work at Goldsmith’s was important to him as it allowed him nurture up-and-coming jewellers and goldsmiths, people like Helen who is a jewellery designer goldsmith as well as a valuer.
Devlin died in 2018 at the age of 86 but his work lives on and will be sought after for years to come. Should you be inspired to start a Devlin collection, or add to one, items coming up for auction include a Devlin limited-edition silver gilt surprise egg revealing a wobbling clown. Made in London in 1980, it has an estimate of £200-£300. The same estimate applies to Devlin’s silver gilt surprise 'frog in the pond' egg made in London in 1978. In decorative flower textured form, it opens to reveal a frog on a green enamel lily pad.And if you love chocolate and bejewelled gems, surely Devlin’s silver gilt surprise 'Easter egg tree' egg, London 1982, estimate £200-£300, is irresistible
But these are far from the only exquisite items in Hansons’ September 24 Fine Art Auction. Other favourites picked out by Helen include an aquamarine and diamond platinum dress ring featuring a 2.2 carat main stone, estimate £390 to £450. Dazzling rings abound and one to make you green with envy is an emerald and diamond cluster 18ct gold ring, estimate £1,100-£1,500.
But jewellery comes in many forms and one of Helen’s favourite lots is an Egyptian revival scarab beetle and opal set 9ct rose gold pendant/brooch. It features a quatre-foil of claw-set beetles with interspersed cabochon opals. Its estimate is £80-£100 but it may well do more. She also likes a late Victorian fox brooch, £250-£400.
And as 2020 is the Chinese Year of the Rat, a pair of rat-inspired early 20th Century Japanese white metal and gold cufflinks from the late Meiji/Taisho period spark attention. In Japanese culture, the rat symbolises fertility, wealth and good luck. The rat cufflinks are being sold together with early 20th Century rock crystal and white metal cufflinks, estimate £80-£100.
FREE jewellery valuations with Kate Bliss and Helen Smith
If you’re considering selling jewellery, silver or gold at auction, renowned expert Kate Bliss will be offering free valuations on Wednesday, September 16, 10am-3pm, at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire DE65 6LS. Thanks to our airy outdoor marquee, no appointment is necessary. Kate will also be offering free jewellery and silver valuations at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffs, ST17 0XN, on Thursday September 17, 10am-3pm. To arrange a remote free valuation, please email [email protected].