Necklace and earring set, silver and blue chalcedony, designed and made by Rhoda Wager, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1937-1938.
Necklace in oxidised 925 silver with seven oval and four circular bezel cabuchon blue chalcedony stones graduated in size in foliated settings, each setting linked by a chain and twisted wire spacer links. Clasp consists of simple bar and circle made of twisted wire with foliated decoration. Earrings (pair), pendant, in oxidised 925 silver with one bezel set elongated oval cabuchon blue chalcedony stone. Foliated mounts hang on dual twisted and oval links from screw-on findings.
Manufacturer's name stamped into reverse 'WAGER'.
Sydney jeweller, Rhoda Wager (1875-1953 was born in 1875 in Mile End, London, and studied at Bristol and Glasgow Schools of Art from 1897 to 1903. It was during this period in Glasgow that she trained under the influential metalsmith, Bernard Cuzner, and learned the prevailing Arts and Crafts style. The style is apparent in her jewellery which typically features semi-precious stones set in silver organic 'vine and leaf' motif. From 1913 Rhoda spent three years with her brother on his sugar plantation in Fiji and continued her work there.
Wager settled in Sydney in 1916 and established a jewellery workshop at 13 Rowe Street - then a hub of artists, designers and makers - where she remained until 1922. She relocated her business several times, occupying premises at Castlereagh Street, Pitt Street and Martin Place before settling in the 1930s at the State Shopping Block. In 1920 she married Percival George Ashton, son of Australian artist, Julian Ashton, but continued to work under her maiden name.
Wager's repertoire included belt buckles, brooches, rings, bracelets, spoons and pendants which she personalised for individual clients. Her work was so expertly designed that other jewellers tried but failed to copy her signature. Rhoda's favourite stones were opals and yellow sapphires. She frequently promoted her work through the fashionable, Sydney Ure Smith publications, 'Art and Australia' and 'The Home', and exhibited annually with the Arts and Crafts Society and Society of Artists. Rhoda Wager's style was unique in Australia in the early twentieth century. She was subsequently copied by many jewellers. She designed, executed, marketed and sold her work herself, in contrast to the traditional distinction between artist and maker.
In 1928, Wager apprenticed her sixteen-year-old niece, Dorothy Wager (later Judge, 1912-2001), and trained her to work in the Arts and Crafts style. Dorothy remained with her aunt until 1939 when she opened her own workshop in King Street. In 1946, Rhoda Wager retired to Brisbane where she died in 1953. During her career she produced some twelve thousand pieces of jewellery.
Between 1988 and 1997 Dorothy provided detailed information about her aunt's work and the pieces in the Powerhouse Museum's collection. She donated a number of jewellery items to the Museum in addition to archival papers, Rhoda Wager's sketch books, workbench and tools.
In order to set up a list of libraries that you have access to,
you must first login
or sign up.
Then set up a personal list of libraries from your profile page by
clicking on your user name at the top right of any screen.