Contemporary jeweller Alex Goodman of jewellery retailer Goodman Morris has created an exclusive range using gems found at the site of a shipwreck.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the SS Persia ship sinking, Goodman has created the SS Persia collection, which takes inspiration from the design of the boat.
The range comprises bracelets, pendants, earrings, cufflinks and bespoke rings in gold and silver.
The collection was unveiled at a special commemoration ceremony and Act of Remembrance which took place at Beaulieu in Hampshire.
The SS Persia sank off the coast of Crete on December 30, 1915 while it was travelling from London to India during World War 1. The sinking was controversial because it broke recognised naval international law, which stated that passengers on merchant shipping should be given the opportunity to disembark before combat commenced. However, German U-Boat ace Max Valentiner commanding U-38 gave no warning before firing a torpedo and it took just five minutes for the ship to sink.
The ship was reported to be carrying a large quantity of bullion and gemstones for the Maharaja Jagajiit Singh. When the British firm Deeptek located the wreck in 2003 and launched a salvage operation, they cut through three decks and into the strong room at a depth of 3000m under the water to discover the safe.
While no bullion was found there was a large haul of gemstones, including an array of rubies, some natural and interestingly, many synthetic. These were some of the earliest synthetics to come to the market as in 1915 synthetic corundum was still relatively new.
Goodman Morris owner, Nicky Morris Goodman, explains: “Deeptek donated the stones to Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum and Mary Montagu-Scott decided to produce a range of pieces to commemorate the story of the SS Persia. Proceeds from the sale of these pieces will support two charities, The Smile Train and The Mission to Seafarers.”
Goodman continues: “It was so exciting to be asked to collaborate with Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum on this project. Mary Montagu-Scott approached us to work with her to create a range of jewellery using the salvaged gemstones. The gems were clean and had been examined, categorised and certificated by gemmologists when we received them. It was still incredible to open the packets and marvel at the provenance and history of the stones. They are bright, vibrant and sparkling – it’s hard to believe that they spent nearly one hundred years at the bottom of an ocean!”
The Goodman Morris duo worked on developing the collection for around three months. One of the challenges was designing a range that would work with all the stones as they are not calibrated and everyone is unique.
“We needed to come up with a solution that would allow us to make a ‘short run’ production collection with an ability to custom make each setting,” Goodman explains.
Alex Goodman took inspiration from Thomas Edward Collcutt’s design and particularly from some of the tiles made by William Frend de Morgan. The end result is a range of stylised paisley, flower and minaret motifs crafted in sterling silver and 18ct yellow gold.
Goodman concludes: “Mary Montagu-Scott and the team at Bucklers Hard were very keen that collection should have entry level pieces, allowing any of the descendents of those on the SS Persia to purchase a piece to commemorate their ancestors.”
Prices start at £90.