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DateLecture
30 May 2019A Portrait of Jewels: Following Missing Treasures through Portraits
26 September 2019AGM followed by Turner and Ruskin: A Celebration
24 October 2019Silk and the Silk Road
28 November 2019The Dowager Empress Cixi (1835 - 1908): Ruling from behind the Yellow Silk Screen
19 December 2019The Art of Partying: A Feast for Eyes

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A Portrait of Jewels: Following Missing Treasures through Portraits Andrew Prince Thursday 30 May 2019

Andrew Prince has had a passion for the jewellery since he was a small child.   The very first piece of jewellery he created was a ring made of copper wire pulled from the back of a television. He presented it to his grandmother (it turned her finger green and gave her a rash). 

In 1980, when he was nine, Andrew's mother took him to the Princely Magnificence exhibition at the V&A, exhibiting Renaissance jewels dating from 1500 to 1630. It proved a revelation and Andrew decided then and there that creating jewellery was what he wanted to devote his life to.  In August 1987, two weeks after his 16th birthday, Andrew started work in London’s Bond Street, working for The Antiques Roadshow expert Ian Harris. Under his guidance, Andrew developed an appreciation for jewels that were valued for their quality of design and craftsmanship, rather than for how much the stones in the piece were worth. He then joined the renowned contemporary jeweller Elizabeth Gage and worked with her on the design and production side, handling rare and extraordinary stones with names such as Sphene, Andalusite, Spinel and Dioptase.

Andrew's taste for fine 'costume jewellery' can be traced back to an antique market, where he came across a late Victorian brooch set with what he initially thought were emeralds and diamonds. They were, in fact, crystal and green glass set in silver and gold. He realised that beautiful jewellery didn't require expensive stones, and that it was the elegance of the design and the quality of the workmanship that truly mattered. Private commissions then started arrive for celebrities such as Michael Jackson (a large crystal and pearl shoulder jewel) and Shirley Bassey (necklaces).

In 2002, the V&A commissioned a collection of jewels to accompany the resplendent Tiaras, Past and Present exhibition, resulting in Andrew's jewellery appearing in film.  In 2005, he was asked to make tiaras and jewellery for Mrs Henderson Presents starring Judy Dench. In 2009, pieces were commissioned for The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt and Miranda Richardson. In 2012, he was chosen by the creators of Downton Abbey to supply a large collection of jewellery for the third series.