Sibyl Dunlop learned her craft in Brussels, and on her return to England she went into business as a jeweller and silversmith. Her shop was located on Kensington Church Street, and she oversaw four craftsmen, as well as her old nurse ‘Nanny Frost’ who looked after the accounts for many years.
At the start of the 1920s, W. Nathanson joined her as a craftsman. His contribution to the style of Sybil Dunlop is vital, and he was to thank for their “carpet of gems” style that makes her designs so eye-catching and sought-after. Dunlop’s own style was influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement, employing the tight wire scrolls and stylised leaves seen in the work of Gaskin and others. However, Nathanson’s style was much more Art Deco, arranging stained agates, opal, garnets, moonstones, fire opals in bold geometric patterns. Where enamel was used, it was often in the Renaissance manner of black with white dot decoration. This wonderful blend of styles resulted in distinctive, eclectic, and highly collectable pieces seen in both jewellery and silverware. Sibyl Dunlop pieces were rarely repeated, so each piece is beautifully unique, capturing the design elements of this unique time in history.
When World War Two broke out in 1939, the firm was forced to disband. Nathanson worked as a fireman through the London blitz, whilst Sibyl’s health deteriorated to the point where she could not continue to run the firm following the war. Nathanson did revive the firm and continued until his retirement in 1971 when it was closed.
Sibyl Dunlop pieces sell exceptionally well at auction, with collectors vying for market-fresh pieces from this wonderful firm.
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