The group's history
In September 1975, six jewellery members of the Society of Designer Craftsmen met at a SDC conference to respond to an approach from the organisers of the London Fashion Collections. This was to display the work of contemporary jewellers alongside the Fashion Show at the Inn on the Park in Park Lane, in spring 1976. Another ten jewellers were invited to join the original six and in February 1976 the Group was formally constituted with Gilian Packard as the first chairman. It was during the deliberations of choosing a name for the group that the term “designer jeweller” was discussed, thus coining what was to become the generic term for a profession.
The basic principles for the Group were to market the work of its members and promote the best of studio jewellery to the public. Although the members worked as a co-operative, the criterion for membership was, and still is, that each member should have an individual approach to design and a recognisable style to the jewellery. Some members produced individual pieces and others made limited edition ranges.
At that time there were few outlets for contemporary jewellery. The Group made its debut at the Goldsmiths’ Fair in 1977, aimed at up-market retailers. A different venue was ALL THAT GLISTERS at the Design Centre in the Haymarket. The following year there were many exhibitions in retail shops around the UK, and stands at Earls Court, NEC Birmingham and the Harrogate Fair; also abroad in Japan, Dubai and the USA.In 1979 Hilary Clarke offered the Group a permanent home at Knowles Brown in their new jewellery gallery in Hampstead, where they continued to have exhibitions and a permanent display until the owners retired in 1984.
Throughout the seventies and early eighties the Group had numerous exhibitions including Libertys, Harvey Nichols, Cecilia Colman Gallery, and Argenta Gallery. In 1994 the group was granted the accolade of a retrospective exhibition at Goldsmiths’ Hall called STUDIO JEWELLERY OF THE PAST TWO DECADES.
The DJG first exhibited at the Barbican Arts Centre in 1984 and since then has established a regular Winter Exhibition, running from November to January each year, with the addition, for the last two years, of a Summer Exhibition in June and July.
Since 1996, a regular feature of the winter exhibition has been the invitation the DJG extends to recent graduates, selected at the annual NEW DESIGNERS exhibition at the Business Design Centre in Islington, to exhibit with the Group at the Barbican Arts Centre, to gain experience in meeting the public and selling their work.
In 2000 the Barbican asked the Designer Jewellers Group to mount a special display of pieces inspired by the Millennium, titled CELEBRATION. This exhibition then successfully toured the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Our latest touring exhibition, FUSION, consisted of new work created through collaborations between DJG members and international textile artists. Begun in 2002, FUSION toured numerous venues in England, Wales and Scotland, and finished in 2006 at Hat Works in Stockport.