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Fabulous Hand-crafted Jewelry by Early Modernist Margret Craver

Silver Dress Clip by Margret Craver

Lot 460: Silver Dress Clip set with a buff-top Rock Crystal by Margret Craver, c. 1936, Estimate $1,500-2,000

Have you ever heard of Margret Craver? This amazing silversmith and master jeweler lived to 103, but many people do not even know her name. Although several museums exhibit examples of her early modernist jewelry, her work has never sold at auction… until now.

A collection of Margret Craver jewelry from her personal estate will be offered in the June 14, 2011 Fine Jewelry auction in Boston.

My favorite piece in the collection is a silver coat clip with a rock crystal stone. This is a personal piece that Margret Craver often wore herself, and it’s a fabulous example of her techniques. You can see her incredible handling of silver, including the way she planished it. Planishing, or striking metal lightly with a hammer, produces subtle marks that reflect light. Also, she faceted the rock crystal stone by hand, which is very unusual. A lot of people who worked in metals didn’t also work with stones, but she wanted to understand every aspect of jewelry-making.

En Resille enamel piece by Margret Craver

Lot 459: Important En Resille Enamel Paperweight by William Harper

Margret Craver is best remembered as an expert silversmith, but she’s also known for her en-resille enameling. This extremely difficult French technique involves engraving delicate designs into glass or rock crystal, then filling the incisions with gold and enamel. Margret Craver mastered the technique, as you can see in the lovely early modernist piece pictured.

(Correction: While this piece came from Craver’s estate, Craver, in fact, acquired it in 1975 from William Harper, a friend and colleague. It is an example of his cloisonné enamel rather than en resille.)

In the mid to late 40s, Margret Craver contributed her skills to the war effort. She convinced Handy & Harman, the silver company she worked for, to fund visits to army hospitals, where she helped rehabilitate veterans by teaching them silversmithing. Teaching was an important part of her life, and another piece we are bringing to auction is a silver broach one of her students made. It comes in a beautiful wooden box marked “gratitude.”

A lecture about Margret Craver and her work will be given on June 8, 2011 by Jeannine Falino, curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, who knew the artist and has written extensively about her. You may also wish to read my blog post on the Solar-Lunar Cosmos Series. Each modernist necklace is made of glass and set with gold or silver.

We hope you will join us at the lecture and auction in welcoming this phenomenal artist’s work to the jewelry auction market for the first time.

2 thoughts on “Fabulous Hand-crafted Jewelry by Early Modernist Margret Craver

  1. Jeannine Falino, curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, will give a talk on Margret Craver’s work on June 8, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. at Skinner’s Boston Auction Gallery. We hope to see you there.

  2. Pingback: Modernist Necklace |The Solar-Lunar Series by Margret Craver

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