Icons of style: Jocelyn Burton

Lucia van der Post talks to Jocelyn Burton, an award-winning metalworker with a very personal style
Illustrated by Christian David Moore

If you love sumptuous silver (or platinum or gold for that matter) full of rich heraldic and historical associations, Jocelyn Burton is your woman. She doesn’t, you understand, do Minimalism. She loves exploring the full decor-ative potential of materials. One of Britain’s most distinguished metalworkers, she trained at the Sir John Cass College and won the De Beers International Award for diamond jewellery when she was just 21 and still a student.

By the time she was 24, she had set up her own studio in London’s Red Lion Square (handy for Hatton Garden), and is still there. She is the only woman to have won the Prince Philip Medal, awarded for an exceptional contribution to engineering.

Look into her portfolio of work, much of it commissioned by the most discerning and well-funded patrons in the world, and what you find is a rich and varied exploration of nature’s immense diversity, translated into the metals and precious stones she works with. She’s made sterling-silver mustard pots-embellished with large Baroque pearls-for The Duke of Edinburgh and vast lamps-fashioned from bronze gilt and malachite-for a new palace in Qatar, as well as a malachite barometer and rose-quartz cabinet for the Sultan of Brunei.

Her work is sought after by our great cultural institutions-the V&A, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as 10, Downing Street, yet she doesn’t only create for the grand.
There are wonderful rich and ornate goblets, some embellished with moonstones, others with gold decorative symbols-fish, shells or seahorses. She’s made cutlery-such as an extraordinary set of flatware in lapis and gilt.

Recommended videos for you

She loves working in detail, using finely chased figurative decoration and incorporating precious and semi-precious stones into goblets, bowls and candlesticks, as well as the jewel-lery for which she is increasingly sought after. Recently, Bentley & Skinner held an exhibition to celebrate four decades of Jocelyn’s work-a reminder of how varied her oeuvre has been and how rich her own particular vision. Her work is instantly recognisable, and she has, as all the best creative artists must do, carved out an aesthetic that is hers and hers alone.

 * Subscribe to Country Life and save

From left to right
Victorian garnet and yellow-gold necklace, £6,250, Bentley & Skinner (020-7629 0651; www.bentley-skinner.co.uk); Arceau Ecuyère watch in rose gold with diamond bezel, £17,900, Hermès (020-7499 8856; www.hermes.com); Gilt Argentium tulip candlestick with Argentium leaves, from £4,000, Jocelyn Burton (020-7405 3042; www.jocelynburton.com); Kiss pin brooch with champagne tourmalines, mabé and South Sea pearls and cinnamon and cream diamonds, price on application, Elizabeth Gage (020-7823 0100; www.elizabeth-gage.com); Green tourmaline and diamond Oceania pendant, £19,950, Theo Fennell (020-7591 5000; www.theofennell.com); Cabbage goblets, £3,000 each, Jocelyn Burton (as above); Agincourt bracelet in 18ct yellow gold with 200 diamonds, price on application, Elizabeth Gage (as above); Argentium whisky tumbler with lion mask, £1,500 and shell spoon, £250, Jocelyn Burton (as above); Flower earrings in 18ct yellow and white gold with South Sea white cultured pearls, £16,800, Elizabeth Gage (as above); Victorian gem-set yellow-gold snake bangle, £39,500, Bentley & Skinner (as above); Silk-velvet curtain, cushion and handpainted silks, all De Gourney (020-7352 9988; www.degournay.com); Tassel tie-backs, stylist’s own

Photographed by John Laurence Jones, styled by Hetty Chidwick

* Follow Country Life magazine on Twitter