"I hope that my work reflects four maxims:
That future is much more important than the past
That creativity is paramount
That skill is fundamental
And that the justification for being a goldsmith is to enrich the way people live and work"
Stuart Devlin is one of the silversmiths and jewellers in the last few years to have seen a significant rise in collectors, and subsequently, the hammer prices achieved at auction. A craftsman of astounding creativity and skill, Devlin silver and jewellery evokes his design ethos superbly. Entered into our forthcoming Fine & Classic Interiors, and Fine Jewellery & Watches auctions is a selection of wonderful Devlin silver and jewellery, all consigned from a local collector of his work.
Devlin burst onto the London scene in 1965, when he opened his first workshop, after gaining acclaim in his native Australia after winning a competition to design Australia's first decimal coinage and supervising the cutting of the dies at the Royal Mint in London prior to their launch in 1966. Using his prize money from the competition, Devlin bought a house in Clerkenwell, London, and created a basement workshop to begin his goldsmithing and silversmithing business.
Following this triumph, he designed medals for the Australian honours system in 1975 as well as coins for over thirty countries. In 1982, he was appointed Goldsmith and Jeweller to the Queen, and in 1996-7 was the Prime Warden of the Goldsmith's Company.
Three pieces of Devlin's work entered into our sales do something to span the variety of his canon of work, encompassing both gold and silver jewellery and decorative objects. From the novelty and collectability of his Easter Eggs, to the bold design of his jewellery, and the captivating works of art that are his silverware, these lots encapsulate Devlin's unwavering design expertise.
A silver and enamel egg pendant by Stuart Devlin. £150-250.
Stuart Devlin's 'Surprise Eggs' or 'Easter Eggs' are probably the most frequently seen design at auction, and achieved a "cult" following in the 1970s (Hinks, 1983).
Crafted in an array of sizes, either as desk ornaments, set as pendants or sometimes even designed as baubles, these quirky and lighthearted pieces are predominantly modelled in silver gilt, with a textured outer egg casing opening to reveal a novel surprise within.
The 'surprises' can range from enamel foliate sprigs as seen in our pendant, to figural scenes, to rough crystals. Our example is in fantastic condition, with a wonderful bright enamelled floral arrangement to the centre, that is really set off by the luxurious silver gilt interior.
A 1970s 18ct gold dress ring by Stuart Devlin. £200-300.
Pieces of Stuart Devlin jewellery don't come up for auction very frequently, and if so the more commonly seen pieces are in his 'crown ring' or 'floral wedding ring' designs.
This dress ring in a bombe style evokes the bold, experimental style of 70s jewellery, in which Devlin and his peers experimented with the possibilities and limitations of gold, often resulting in fabulously textured, tactile and captivating creations. The open and reticulated pattern of this ring is quintessentially Devlin, with a network of varying five-leaf daisies forming the bombe shape of this captivating piece.
Purchased by our vendor in the 1970s, this piece is bound to attract interest from our bidders and is priced as a wonderful entry piece to the Devlin collector, or a fantastically wearable addition to any existing collection.
A 'Cariatic' silver wine coaster by Stuart Devlin. £150-250.
Featuring in our forthcoming Fine & Classic Auction is a silver wine coaster by Devlin. This wine coaster is typical of Devlin's silver designs, featuring a contrast of smooth polished silver with silver-gilt textured and openwork detailing. Look closer, and you see that the sides are comprised of an evocative design that Devlin is renowned for. Referred to as the 'Cariatic' design, this motif of tiny interlinking figures can be found in his silverware and jewellery collections.
In Twentieth Century British Jewellery (1983), Peter Hinks describes the Cariatic design in jewellery: "At a glance, these appear to be in random openwork, but a closer look shows them to made of tiny, naked human figures dancing in procession as a bracelet, playing ring-a-roses as a wedding band or scrambling in a human pyramid on each other's shoulders as pendent earrings." The dynamic, eye-catching and imaginative design of this wine coaster conjures a wonderful novelty that captivates the viewer. This wonderful Devlin wine coaster is in great condition and boasts an iconic Devlin design that should appeal to collectors everywhere.
The market has never been stronger for Stuart Devlin pieces. Following his unfortunate passing in 2018, more and more collectors have vied for examples of his work, both in jewellery and silverware.
If you would like a valuation of your collection or would like more information about our forthcoming auctions, contact Liz Bailey via firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01270 623 878