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Great Designers
March 2011
World Gold Council, London, UK
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Gold, the material of the moment, emotive, expressive and exhilarating, comes to life in the hands of a new wave of goldsmiths and jewelers around the world, blazing a trail of innovation and originality in art, design and craftsmanship, both exploring new technology and revitalising traditional skills. Each has discovered the glories of gold from a different point of view, and each has taken a unique approach to interpreting gold’s physical attributes, its nobility, its echoes from the past, and its glimpse of the future. Here we continue to showcase the international designer-goldsmiths who are leading the way forward. Pure gold.  

Barbara Berk

Art-goldsmith Barbara Berk, based near San Francisco, California, has developed a distinctive technique of weaving high carat gold wire into “fabric” which she then coaxes into three-dimensional, sculptural, fluid forms, ribbons, ruffles, spirals and loops. This intensive hand-worked process, adapted from a rug-weaving technique, called Soumak, from Azerbaijan, uses 18 carat gold wire for strength, the “skeleton”, and 22 carat for malleability, the “skin”. The finished jewels, she explains, are contemporary interpretations of classical forms and techniques. “With gold, I can create intricate designs that are structurally sound. I can weave dense and tight or open and lacy. I can solder and I can sew. I can work large scale or small, explore positive and negative space, play with shape, texture and volume. Gold means brilliance. You feel its fluidity and resonance, while its rich, deep colour draws you into the heart of my wearable sculptures. Gold makes my jewels sing.”  

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