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Sotheby’s Brings Back ‘Brilliant & Black’ Selling Exhibition

AuctionsSep 08, 2022

Sotheby’s Brings Back ‘Brilliant & Black’ Selling Exhibition

The exhibition is larger in scale this year and has a new theme, Enlightenment.

Sotheby’s “Brilliant & Black: The Age of Enlightenment” exhibition will showcase 70 pieces from 25 contemporary Black jewelry designers at its London gallery from Sept. 22 to Oct. 2. Pictured is an owl cuff from one of the exhibition’s returning designers, Lauren Harwell Godfrey.
London—A year after it launched its groundbreaking selling exhibition “Brilliant & Black: A Jewellery Renaissance,” Sotheby’s is bringing it back with more designers and a different theme.

For last year’s event, Sotheby’s partnered with jewelry writer, 2022 Gem Award winner, and curator Melanie Grant to highlight the skill, imagination, and craftsmanship of Black jewelry designers from the 1950s to the present.

The second edition of the exhibition will open at Sotheby’s London gallery later this month, coinciding with Black History Month in the U.K.

The auction house again has partnered with Grant for “Brilliant & Black: The Age of Enlightenment,” which is set to be even bigger than last year’s New York show, offering more than 70 pieces from 25 contemporary designers.

The returning designers from last year’s exhibition are: Melanie Eddy, Lola Fenhirst, Harwell Godfrey, Sheryl Jones, Vania Leles, Angie Marei, Satta Matturi, Johnny Nelson, Jariet Oloye-Oduto, Jacqueline Rabun, Catherine Sarr, Maggi Simpkins, Karen Smith, Ten Thousand Things, Lorraine West, Thelma West and Castro NYC.

The man behind Castro NYC, Terry Castro, died unexpectedly in July, shocking the industry and leaving many mourning the death of a talented artist whose star was on the rise.

His work is being exhibited courtesy of his family.

This theme of this year’s “Brilliant & Black” exhibition is Enlightenment, reflecting the present period of “modern enlightenment, exploring the depth and breadth of our talent today for all those who don’t have a voice or opportunity to do so themselves,” curator Melanie Grant said.
This theme of this year’s “Brilliant & Black” exhibition is Enlightenment, reflecting the present period of “modern enlightenment, exploring the depth and breadth of our talent today for all those who don’t have a voice or opportunity to do so themselves,” curator Melanie Grant said.

New to the exhibition this year are eight designers: Disa Allsopp, Latoya Boyd, Shola Branson, Ndidi Eubia, Gina Love, Pascale Marthine Tayou via Elisabetta Cipriani gallery, Roxanne Rajcommar-Hadden, and Sewit Sium. 

Sotheby’s said all the participating artists have created one new piece that is a nod to the exhibition’s theme, Enlightenment, a period Grant described as, “a time of growth, individualism and intellectual reason.”

In a release from Sotheby’s about the exhibition, she elaborated.

“So much of history repeats itself, and for me this second exhibition is about our expansion from that moment of conception in New York last September. In practical terms, this has involved inviting eight new artists to take part, bringing our roster to 25. As we forge ahead, having showcased the talents of old masters Art Smith and Winifred Mason last time, only contemporary artists will now be featured because this show is about the future and where we go from here.

 Related stories will be right here … 

“The tsunami of interest we experienced in Black creativity may be quieter now, but we cannot forget its lessons. There are fears that as things return to normal, our efforts to elevate Black design will be eclipsed by more recent events, but the work is too good and, once seen, never forgotten …  We are in a period of enlightenment. A modern enlightenment exploring the depth and breadth of our talent today for all those who don’t have a voice or opportunity to do so themselves.

“I want to thank all the collectors who continue to support us and to Sotheby’s, to whom I am eternally grateful. The best is yet to come.”

All the jewels will be on display at the Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries from Sept. 22 to Oct. 2. A smaller selection of pieces will remain available for viewing through the end of October.

They all will be available for purchase in person or online through the Buy Now marketplace at Sothebys.com.

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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