I wanted to make myself a ring because I couldn't find one at all in the market. I realized the only way ever to have it is to make it myself. – Elizabeth Gage
A Little Background
Elizabeth Gage is a British jeweler with an illustrious career that spans over 50 years. From childhood, when she made her own dolls' clothes and other items to play with, Gage has had a gift for creating things to satisfy her unique sense of beauty and joy.
Gage studied design at the Chelsea School of Art, then spent six years of study as a goldsmith at the Sir John Cass College. Early on, she was inspired by the jewelry collection of Catherine the Great and the Roman jewelry on display at the British Museum. These historical references can be seen in her jewelry designs throughout her career.
Shunning the idea of mass-produced jewelry, Gage has created only bespoke designs. Her jewelry features intricate details and embraces the work of expert craftsmanship. It is admired for its inventive use of color and materials. Today, she has a team of highly skilled goldsmiths to bring her designs to life. But she remains the creative force behind every piece that bears her name.
It All Started…
One of Gage's earliest creations was a butterfly pin, designed in 1964. Her first ring style debuted in 1967. Meant to look like a modern drum, decorated with gemstones, this ring style, which has appeared using a variety of different gemstones, is still being offered by the jewelry designer.
Gage's big break came in 1968 with a commission from Cartier. She designed an exclusive collection for their new catalog. The effort was a huge success.
Gage's clientele is among the wealthiest in the world, and they are passionate collectors. Discriminating and sophisticated, they typically own a dozen or two of her creations.
I don't set out to create art. I set out to create beauty. My jewelry has to have balance and form, which is the most important thing to me, then comes color and harmony. – Elizabeth Gage
Gage works primarily in 18K and 22K gold. She uses large gemstones, ancient bronzes, carvings, cameos, and baroque pearls, combined with colorful enamel to create each unique design. But she doesn't limit herself to conventional materials. Gage has also incorporated unique materials, such as ancient coins with visages of kings and queens. Her pieces are large, bold, and impressive.
As well as historical themes, Gage is inspired by nature, her styles incorporating the ocean and all manner of flora and fauna.
Another of Gage's talents is for repurposing a client's heirloom piece. She loves the challenge of breathing new life into unworn jewelry, designing something fresh, enabling the piece to be enjoyed anew without the loss of any sentimental value.
I have no idea what my imagination is going to create. I look at a stone, and it tells me what to do. – Elizabeth Gage
The Agincourt Ring
An oval tsavorite accompanied by rows of brilliant round diamonds. The ring won Gage an award from DeBeers.
Inspired by the story of the Knights Templar, a military order persecuted by the pope and king of France in the 14th Century, Gage created a series of jewelry styles with a medieval motif.
This spectacular brooch pays homage to the pagan god of plants.
Britain's Henry II, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, along with Francis I of France, are celebrated with coins that bear their faces, framed in enamel, gold, and gemstones.
The Camel Brooch
In 1990, Gage was commissioned by Lauren Bacall to convert a camel-shaped Indian gold chess piece into a wearable piece of jewelry. Gage obliged, creating a unique jeweled piece that featured the camel atop a Jaipur plaque, complete with a cultured pearl. During her lifetime, Bacall purchased nearly two dozen pieces from the designer.
- 1972: DeBeers Award
- 1989: Queen's Award for Export Achievement
- 1996: British Jewellery Designer of the Year Award
- 2008: Lifetime Achievement Award, Retail Jeweller
- 2017: MBE
- 1973: Craft Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- 1977: Virginia Craftsmen Exhibition, Richmond Museum, Virginia
- 1978: Der Ring Exhibition, Deutsches Goldsmiedehaus, Hanau
- 1989: Queen's Award for Expert Achievement
- 1995: Wellbeing Charity Fashion Show
- 2010: Inclusion in the permanent Jewellery Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London