Sotheby’s Brilliant & Black jewellery exhibition reviewed

Sotheby's' second exhibition dedicated to Black jewellery designers curated by Melanie Grant has opened in London and is set to run throughout Black History Month

By Kim Parker

After a successful first run at its New York location, Sotheby’s London auction house has launched the latest instalment of a groundbreaking selling exhibition dedicated solely to the work of Black jewellery designers – Brilliant & Black: The Age of Enlightenment.

Sotheby's Brilliant & Black exhibition
Sotheby’s latest exhibition features the work of 25 leading Black jewellery designers, including Jariet Oloye, Angie Marei, and Roxanne Rajcoomar-Hadden, featured here.

Curated by jewellery editor and expert, Melanie Grant, the exhibition features over 70 designs by 25 contemporary Black designers, to showcase their incredible skill and craftsmanship. Alongside some of their existing creations, each jeweller also created one unique piece inspired by the exhibition’s overarching theme of ‘Enlightenment’, which Grant chose as it represents “a time of growth, individualism, and intellectual reason.”

Photo of Vanleles earrings in rose gold, rubellite, ruby and diamonds by DeMarcus Allen for Sotheby’s

Many of the designers that participated in the New York exhibition feature again in London, including the gemstone-studded creations of San Francisco-based Lauren Harwell Godfrey, Thelma West (who counts Rihanna amongst her fans) and Maggi Simpkins, who also recently took part in a unique jewellery initiative to raise money for the people affected by the war in Ukraine.

New to the British leg of the exhibition, at which visitors can buy any of the pieces which capture their fancy, are seven more designers, including Gina Love (founder of Auvere jewellery, which specialises in 22k and 24k gold pieces), Roxanne Rajcoomar-Hadden and Disa Allsopp, whose colourful creations are all handmade in her London studio.

Lauren Harwell Godfrey for Brilliant & Black at Sotheby's
The Brilliant & Black exhibition features unique, one-off pieces by each designer, including Lauren Harwell Godfrey, who created this owl cuff

Running throughout the month of September and then to the end of October as an edit, the exhibition will also coincide with Black History Month. “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,” says Grant of the exhibition. “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.”

Like this? Read about Emefa Cole’s jewellery on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum