Hobart, Tasmania, Australia commenced 1908 /1912


Necklace c.1950 Place made: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Materials & Technique: jewellery, necklaces, silver, coral

Primary Insc: Stamped verso, 'SARGISON'S, 'SILVER'.
Dimensions: 15.0 h x 15.0 w x 0.6 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased from Gallery admission charges 1988
Accession No: NGA 88.1411
  • Harold Sargison began his career as a jeweller and silversmith in 1902 and worked in Hobart until retiring in 1981. The firm of Sargison’s, like its counterparts such as Linton’s in Perth, was noted for its consistency of design and high quality of craftsmanship.

    Sargison’s made this modest silver and coral necklace from nine pieces of sterling silver wire, hammered flat at the ends and bent into mask-like shapes soldered together. Each element had a cabochon (dome) of coral set at the juncture of the hammered ends. Finally, small silver rings linked the units together, creating a light and flexible chain.

    The design for the necklace had two main influences: the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau. The Arts and Crafts movement began in Britain in the latter part of the 19th century and similar ideas flourished in Australia at the turn of the century, when Sargison was beginning his apprenticeship. Here the Arts and Crafts tenets of ‘truth to materials’ and retaining evidence of handcrafted manufacture are evident.

    The design also refers to Art Nouveau, a late 19th and early 20th-century movement characterised in France by sinuous, fluid line and luxurious materials. In Britain, Art Nouveau linearity was more restrained, an attitude reflected in this necklace. But it was also a contemporary 1950s piece, and one can easily imagine it worn with a smart dress of that time.

    Eugenie Keefer Bell 2002.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002