Jack du Rose is a jewelry designer coming from a hands-on background. In a time of professional education, it is rare to encounter a successful fabricator that has his feet in apprenticeship. He is doubly interesting for being self-taught, so far as design is concerned.
The artist gained his technical skill as a fabricator to two jewelers in London, creating models for them, most likely CAD on the front end and wax in back. It was a lucky break, coming from an educational system that flunked him for art and design and in the English system this prevented him from entering the arts.
Resigned to an English major he nearly gave up his visual side, but the designer found himself drawn towards the bygone ornamental work of the late 19th Century, and landed himself a position where he could learn in a production setting.
Perhaps there is something telling in the ease of his style. Trained goldsmiths might be influenced by techniques and designs that dominate the market place, but skipping straight ahead to the technical prowess that comes only from repeated practice gave him instead the ability to make and show pieces of great difficulty, while doing it with a more total artistic oversight.
After working on the crew that produced for Damien Hirst one of his legendary platinum and diamond encrusted skulls, we could wonder if the designer felt adequately historic at that point to remove himself from any form of vernacular. And yet the pieces exhibit a kind of restraint to them, conservative themes (by today’s standards) are nuanced and expanded upon, original in their poise, fluid in line, but reliably adhering to the standard of what any exceptional jewel might be recognized by today: jewels, completely covered all over in them.
Since the arrival of pavê setting in the early 1900s, the demand placed on the model maker to possess both an engineer’s mind and a graceful line are precisely where du Rose centers his bid. And with characters like Galliano, McQueen and Westwood leading high fashion into deeper imperial punk-goth directions, his choice of creatures and skeletons not only has its audience, but takes place in a time of fortune not unlike the period that inspired him. The Fin de Siècle was good to Lalique and Tiffany, and our new millennium sees a similar kind of global wealth concentrated in the hands of a luxury class that is hopeful, curious, and seeking to carve its place with styles that display a distance from the past.
Apparently considering this with his primary collection, he doesn’t rest only the technical material and carat weight of the pieces, but includes an artisan made wooden case, a hand blown glass vitrine, and to the whole package adds a scorpion key as elaborately set as the large jewel inside, which locks the display. The steering of an already successful position fabricating towards taking risks with more elaborate creativity, is at least a partial rejection of minimal and pragmatic approaches to adding value to precious objects. It is also a signature of some members of his generation, and the promise of this motivation is great. So much for a system that didn’t think he rated as artistic, here he unbegrudgingly leans in to make an adjustment to it where he best can.