Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Muriel Goodman Necklace, 1913

The Victoria & Albert Museum

A masterpiece of gold openwork, this necklace features an elaborate central pendant of a swirling, foliate design which has been set with four opals and hung with a long irregular pearl drop. The linear panels of gold openwork which form the necklace’s chain are set with a disc of mother of pearl. The box clasp is set with a blister pearl.

The original box from 1913 remains. This curving triangular box is covered in beige fabric, and, inside, a cream velvet base. The satin on the lid is stamped 'DRYAD METAL WORK LEICESTER' in gold.

The necklace was a gift from Basil Gimson (nephew of the Arts and Crafts architect and furniture designer) to his bride Alice Muriel Goodman as a gift on her wedding day, 8 April 1913 (which was also her twenty-fourth birthday).

A letter to Basil from his mother dated 18 January 1913 reads:

“This morning Sydney and I were at the Dryad talking to Mr Peach. He spoke of the gold necklace Mr Pick is making for Muriel. He said they had picked out some first rate opals for it. From his description it sounded like a very costly affair, so I said: ‘Oh, but there is a limit of price.’ ‘Yes, I know, but I have told Pick we are going to do this thing just tip top, the very best possible. It shall defy competition! Gimsons have been the very best customers we have ever had, and we are going to turn out something worth having!’”

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