Antiques Roadshow: Expert on ‘astonishing’ Scottish Silver
The owner of a vast collection of silver jewellery from the Scottish island of Iona brought her treasures on the Antiques Roadshow this week as the BBC show paid a visit to Culzean Castle in Ayrshire. Expert Gordon Foster showed viewers the jewels and explained the intricate history behind them, but the guest had to drop quite bombshell when he asked the other whether she actually wore the precious pieces.
After being asked if she wore the pieces on show, the guest seemed rather embarrassed as she grimaced and very quickly replied: “Well no, I don’t because I like contemporary jewellery.”
“I just look at it. I bring it out of the drawer every so often and I just look at it,” she explained.
The two shared a laugh at the fact the guest had snubbed the stunning jewellery in favour of more modern artefacts.
Speaking of how she started her collection, she said: “I found a broach belonging to my mother that was all broken and black.
“I decided to have it repaired and researched the design.
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“That is when I came across Alexandre Ritchie,” she shared.
“I just like the story of him and his wife. He went to Glasgow school of art and learnt how to do silver.”
Foster explained: “We are of course looking at the work of husband and wife team Alec and Euphemia Ritchie from the magical island of Iona, off the West Coast of Scotland.
“This group of Scottish silver is something that is very dear and close to my heart and I am sure it is to yours too,” went on to say the antique expert.
“That’s where they met, Alexandre and Euphemia Ritchie, at Glasgow School of Art, in the late 1890s. They married in Glasgow and returned to Iona.”
“They set up their business making basically good quality souvenirs for the many visitors who were coming to Iona every day.
“Their inspiration was the Celtic stones on Iona, the sculpted stones, the crosses, the grave slabs around Iona Abbey.
“They use motives much in the early Celtic manner,” explained Foster while giving a tour of the jewels.
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Taking a closer look at a headband, Foster commented that it was “actually quite a rare object.”
“You can see these Celtic running scrolls, very typical of early Celtic art. This is made in solid silver and dates about 1920.”
However, the century-old piece wasn’t the only thing that caught the expert’s eye.
Pointing at another item he said: “This one here particularly caught my eye, the dove of peace broach.”
“With that wonderful enamel background, and if you can imagine, as we know, Iona on the island the seas are really that colour.”
“It’s almost like a Mediterranean aquamarine blue, white sands,” he continued.
To see how much the collection of silver jewellery is valued at, viewers can tune in today on BBC One.
During the same episode, the roadshow team will uncover a letter from President Eisenhower.
Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer now.
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