Swinging bling in vogue again

By James Cockington | The Sydney Morning Herald | Money | Wednesday 7 October 2015

charles de temple 3

It might be "Las Vegas bling" to some, but a collection of eye-catching jewellery bought in swinging London by an expat businesswoman is set to make a big splash.

In fact, jewellery is hot right now, perhaps because those with some spare cash to invest are considering putting it into precious jewels rather than under-performing stocks and shares.

On October 20, Shapiro Auctioneers, based in the heart of Queen Street, will include a Fine Jewellery section in their Luxury Design auction.

The highlight is a one-owner collection of pieces by the celebrated London-based designer Charles de Temple. The 18 pieces listed include earrings, bracelets, brooches and necklaces designed in the currently fashionable '70s and '80s periods. Most are one-offs.

Charles de Temple is a big name among international jewellery collectors with a fascinating history. He was born into a travelling circus in Mexico in 1929, then worked as a sculptor in America before deciding to concentrate on jewellery design.

He moved to England in 1957 and soon became a part of the swinging London scene. His claim to fame is as the designer of several pieces featured in the 1965 Bond movie Goldfinger (cue Shirley Bassey theme song).


The collection to be sold by Shapiro comes from a Sydney businesswoman who lived in London in the 1970's. She bought these from de Temple's studio during a 15-year period. His work wasn't sold in Australia because he preferred to work on commission for special clients.

What may surprise some is the style of the jewellery that is now selling for large amounts on the secondary market. These are flamboyant, sculptural, big statement pieces. Some have described them unkindly as Las Vegas bling. The majority will be worn.

The work of de Temple is more subtle in style but is still designed to be noticed across a crowded room. They are mainly in the $10,000 to $15,000 price range but are expected to attract strong interest from overseas, especially the UK. Australia's falling exchange rates will add some extra incentive. There are some cheaper items available, including an aquamarine cocktail ring with estimates of $4000 to $6000.


Aquamarine and diamond cocktail ring, c. 1970 by Charles de Temple in 18 carat white and yellow gold, centring an emerald cut aquamarine to an openwork and beaded yellow and white gold band with five circular-cut diamonds.

Another hot designer from this period is Andrew Grima, who had a shop in Jermyn Street, London from the mid-60s. Personal clients included Princess Margaret and Jackie Onassis.

In December 2013, Shapiro sold two Grima pieces, including an 18-carat gold and diamond pendant necklace that had been offered as the raffle prize at the 1968 launch of Grima's new collection at the Australia Hotel in Sydney. This gala function was hosted by Dame Zara Holt, which no doubt accounts for this piece selling for $4000 plus, well above estimates of $2000 to $3000.

Auction Tuesday 20 October 2015
On View Sat 10 - Tue 20 Oct 11am - 5pm
Catalogue Online here.