Lectures & Events

A central function of the Consultancy is to provide corporate and private clients, fine art groups, universities and teaching institutions with a diverse and compelling range of jewellery presentations – at an affordable price.

These events either take the shape of a formal, structured lecture delivered to a large number of delegates or a small, informal talk given to groups of private and corporate clients in the setting of a stately home, a private residence or museum.

All lectures are illustrated with high resolution colour images and are often complemented by practical “workshops” during which clients’ own jewellery is identified and appraised.

John Benjamin is a popular speaker for the Arts Society (formerly known as NADFAS) and delivers some 70 lectures and Study Days every year in the U.K. and overseas. Corporate events have been held in prestige venues such as Woburn Abbey, the Tower of London, Rockingham Castle and Edinburgh Castle offering companies and institutions the ideal location for entertaining their clients in a novel and informative way.

Education and Teaching Seminars. John Benjamin has lectured to students at Sotheby’s Institute, Christie’s Education, The Society of Jewellery Historians, The National Association of Goldsmiths’ Annual Conference and, in America, at the Annual Jewelry Conference.

If you would like a talk on jewellery specially designed for schools, universities and teaching faculties, please contact us at johncbenjamin@btopenworld.com or telephone +44 (0)1296 615522.

Topics

Click on a presentation to view a synopsis
  • A History of Jewellery from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth Taylor (lecture or day of special interest)
  • Romancing the Stone: A Sparkling History of Diamonds
  • The Georgian Jewel: A Window into a Forgotten World
  • Belle Epoque to Bulgari: Jewellery Design and Fabulous Progress in the 20th Century
  • At The Sign of the Falcon: The Life and Work of Henry George Murphy, Britain’s Great Neglected Goldsmith
  • Fabergé: The Life and Work of the World’s Greatest Goldsmith
  • Smallhythe and Other Hidden Gems: The Intimate Jewels of Dame Ellen Terry

 

Fees

Fees are negotiable and are tailored to the individual event. For further information, please contact us at johncbenjamin@btopenworld.com or telephone +44 (0)1296 615522.

Independent Testimonials

That was one superb lecture. On behalf of the whole audience I am writing to say thank you … I don’t think you will be surprised to learn that it has been “marked” OUTSTANDING.
Warwick Decorative and Fine Arts Society

Your lecture on Fabergé was the most interesting and wonderfully presented lecture we have ever listened to!
Stamford Antique and Collectors’ Club

On behalf of Gadfas, I would like to thank you so much for a superb Study Day on Tuesday. The history of jewellery was so interesting and your slides were quite stunning. Added to this, your enthusiasm and humour made it a very special day for us all.
Goring Decorative and Fine Arts Society

You are a star! That was, in the unanimous opinion of every member of the society I have spoken with, the best lecture in ages! Your wit, erudition and charm had us all on the edges of our chairs and not a snore in the house!
Gloucestershire Decorative and Fine Arts Society

On behalf of The Flag Officers and Members of The Royal Irish Yacht Club, I wish to thank you for your most exciting and informative slide show and lecture. Undoubtedly one of the best nights we have ever had at the club.
The Royal Irish Yacht Club

Jewellery from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth Taylor

Four hundred years of international jewellery design, examining the changing styles from the pomp of High Renaissance enamelled gold work to the glamour of Harry Winston diamonds. This presentation covers many of the key elements of manufacture, including the progress of diamond cutting, Neo-classicism and Romanticism, 19th Century Archaeological and Renaissance Revivalism, the impact of diamond mining in South Africa, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts and Art Deco, Post War Modernism and designs of the future. Other important areas covered include Cartier and the introduction of platinum jewellery as a statement of style and the jewels of the Duchess of Windsor.

Romancing the Stone: A Sparkling History of Diamonds

From the most basic table-cuts to the perfectly proportioned round brilliants of today, this presentation traces how man has mastered the technique of cutting and polishing the hardest substance on earth. Fully illustrated with historical slides, the various styles of cutting are discussed including lasqué, point-cut, rose-cut, old-mine and modern brilliants of the 20th century. The second part of the presentation covers diamond jewellery through history, the use of silver, gold and platinum and their impact on design, the diamond today and how it is identified and assessed, the role of the diamond laboratories and the potential repercussions of imitations and synthetics. The final part of the presentation discusses fancy diamonds and famous diamonds through history.

The Georgian Jewel: A Window into a Forgotten World

The so-called “Age of the Facetted Stone”, this presentation traces the development of diamond cutting and the response of jewellery manufacturers to social, economic and political changes from the reign of Queen Anne to George III. Topics given particular emphasis include memorial jewellery, flowers and naturalism, Berlin iron and cut steel, gemstones, foiling and fakes, Romanticism, Sentimentality, the growth of Neo-classicism and the influence of Napoleonic France. Other subjects covered encompass rocaille and floral decoration of the Orient, the impact of paste, the bow, parure, girandole and sevigne form in jewellery design and the irresistible pace of change brought about by war in Europe.

Belle Epoque to Bulgari: The Fabulous Progress of Jewellery Design in the 20th Century

From the “Golden Era” of diamond production in the late 19th century to “cloned” production on a global scale, this presentation examines the progress of jewellery design in the 20th century and covers such crucial topics as Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, the power of platinum, the rise of the big international jewellery houses, Art Deco, Post-War Retro, the fun 1960s, the experimental 1970s, the insidious growth of enhancements in the 1980s and the development of so-called “cultured” diamonds which threaten to de-stabilize the industry today.

At The Sign of the Falcon: The Life and Work of Henry George Murphy, Britain’s Most Neglected Goldsmith

H G Murphy’s greatest misfortune was to die just before the start of the Second World War. The designs and inspirations of the pre-war era were simply seen as passé and totally out of keeping with the new spirit of modernism which quickly grew after the Festival of Britain in 1951. Harry Murphy served his apprenticeship under Henry Wilson, probably Britain’s greatest designer goldsmith of the Arts and Crafts era. Here he learnt a wide range of skills and techniques including enamelling, gem-setting and polishing, niello, engraving and hammering. From 1928 until his death in 1939 he worked from retail premises in Marylebone, London known as the Falcon Studio where he designed and created a prodigious amount of silverware for the corporate, civic and private sectors as well as some truly startling gold, silver and enamel jewellery inspired by nature, architecture, the Ballet Russes and the vibrancy of the Jazz Age.

Fabergé: The Life and Work of the World’s Greatest Goldsmith

The son of a middle class provincial jeweller, this talk analyses the mercurial rise of Carl Fabergé in pre-revolution Russia who, by his late 30’s, was producing incomparable jewels and objets d’art for the Imperial Court and bourgeouis Moscow and St Petersburg. The presentation discusses Fabergé’s early life and influences, includes photographs of the shops and their workers and is comprehensively illustrated with objets d’art including hardstones, flower studies, works of fantasy, jewellery, objects of function and the famous Imperial Easter Eggs. The talk also closely parallels the life of Tsar Nicholas II and the tragedy of the Tsarevich Alexei, Rasputin and the events leading to the Revolution and beyond. Workmasters, maker’s marks and the growing problem of fakes on the market are also explored.

 

Smallhythe and Other Hidden Gems: The Intimate Jewels of Dame Ellen Terry

Ellen Terry's home for the last thirty years of her life was Smallhythe Place, a timber-framed, 16th century farmhouse situated just outside Tenterden in Kent. Now a National Trust museum, Smallhythe is a shrine to the life and career of arguably our greatest stage actress yet it is her jewellery which is an absolute revelation. Intimate, passionate and curious, this is not a mass of pretty jewels and baubles purchased for mere vanity or display but is instead a highly personal route map of a tangled and unconventional life spent within the rigid confines of Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

John Benjamin's new talk explores the social and chronological backdrop of "The Queen of Theatre" illustrated through her amazing jewellery - surely the hidden gem in the National Trust crown.