De Vroomen2

The exhibition, in the Goldsmiths' Hall, throughout June & July 2017, celebrated five decades collaboration between husband and wife team, Leo de Vroomen and Ginnie de Vroomen.

Emma Paragreen, Curator of the Sheffield Assay Office, reports from the ACJ & SJH Private View

Image: Diamond and enamel brooch, De Vroomen, photograph Richard Valencia for the Goldsmiths' Company

The exhibition showcased over 100 pieces of De Vroomen jewels, sketches reflecting the creative process, as well as Ginnie’s vivid paintings inspired by nature and the urban landscape. Bold, sophisticated jewellery with flowing lines is placed in conversation with polychromatic abstract art.

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By courtesy of the Goldsmiths’ Company and Ginnie and Leo de Vroomen, members of the SJH and ACJ were invited to attend a private view at which both Ginnie and Leo kindly offered to say a few words of introduction about their work. It was a marvellous opportunity for jewellery historians and practising jewellers to meet and talk to them about their pieces and what inspires them.

The private view was held on Monday, 17 July 2017, 6pm to 8pm, at Goldsmiths’ Hall, Foster Lane, London, EC2V. 

Emma Paragreen, of the Sheffield Assay Office provided the following report of the event.

"What a privilege to be greeted by Ginnie and Leo De Vroomen as members of The Society of Jewellery Historian’s and Association of Contemporary Jewellers entered the Goldsmiths’ Hall on Monday evening. Dazzled by the jewellery on display the group gathered in awe, eager to hear the couples fascinating tale of meeting at Central School and of their creation of stunning jewellery, spanning over 50 years.

Ginnie spoke of her first piece of work, a treasured silver repousse bangle, designed when she was a student, this wonderful piece of work fashioned with soldered curved tubes and granulation depicting Ginnie’s fascination with the porosity of bone.

As the evening progressed the group moved between the display cases and hear of the formation of the partnership in the 1960’s, how an early selling trip to the USA in the 1970’s with a small collection of work how the silver bangle proved to be a great success and they received a commission to create a 18ct gold version. Further commissions followed, they exhibited at the Basal Art Fair, and their repousse was well received. From this day, repousse has remained a signature of their work, working flat sheet up to a form, the use of repousse keeps the weight of the jewellery down, allowing them to create larger bolder pieces, they showed an example a large platinum necklace, now part of the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection.

The large dominant gemstones featured heavily in the exhibition, many given to them in order to create a piece of jewellery others purchased by Leo with his attentive eye for something wonderful. The choice of a gemstone and the colour are key to each piece of unique jewellery, they prefer cabochons to faceted stones. In the late 1970s they started to incorporate enamel into their designs. The group saw examples of bold rings, brooches, cells filled with enamel carefully applied by Fred Rich. Leo and Gennie recognise the immense skills of engravers and enamellers, the painstaking techniques of flinking and scoring of the metal was discussed as being key to bringing the enamel alive when finally polished.

Ginnie and Leo believe in versatile jewellery, multifunctional, an example was given by Ginnie of a pearl necklace with a pendant, the pendant could be detached and worn as a brooch, and the pearls worn short or long. The couple over their career have continued with an exploration of styles, developed unique one-off commissions but also created more commercial lines. In 1986 Gennie designed and won the Diamond International Award, by DeBeers, something as a student she had aspired to win. Her design was an ebony and diamond necklace and earrings, as it was a competition piece she felt that as a designer you can be wilder and brave with the design. The importance of competition led to the creation of more commercial lines. Over their career they both enjoyed working closely with De Beers and the World Gold Council.

Asked whether they marked their work, they both agreed that they loved hallmarking, Leo stated that “it made the piece legitimate “and said “the date letter is so important”.

More recently in preparation for the forthcoming exhibition they chose to work with some of the best enamellers in the UK, Paul Munn, Fred Rich, Jane Short and Phil Barnes, we saw four examples of brooches sat alongside an earlier example, each enameller had embellished the piece in their own style of work. The final showcase was an array of colour, the wonderful design with exquisite enamel work, with counter enamelling on reverse of the brooches. They admitted that many of the pieces are personal to them and they do not wish to sell them so have formed their own collection and hence with loans from clients, and their own collection they have been able to bring together the exhibition at the Goldsmiths’ Hall.

Today they have an office/ workshop in Belgravia London, Gennie paints wonderful landscapes as well as vibrant abstract work, examples of which were displayed alongside the wonderful jewellery. Leo and Gennie are still designing and taking commissions they a have a personal love for each other, love of what they create together, unique De Vroomen jewels, a love of colour and harmony, of form shared in the working relationship of them both.

The exhibition celebrated five decades of artistic collaboration between renowned husband and wife team, Dutch goldsmith Leo de Vroomen and British jewellery designer and artist Ginnie de Vroomen. When they started working together in the early ‘70s, they developed a signature style of jewellery unlike anything seen before. As with their current designs, early De Vroomen pieces had a voluptuous quality resulting from being formed rather than constructed - sensuously sculptural repoussé work often combined with glorious enamel."


 Image credit: Diamond and enamel brooch, De Vroomen.

Collection: The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Image ©The Goldsmiths' Company.

Photography by Richard Valencia