Marbeth Schon has one of the best (if not the best) contemporary jewelry sites on the Internet. This crown, by San Francisco artisan Merry Renk, is available from her (price upon request). Marbeth is also the author of Modernist Jewelry, 1930-1960 The Wearable Art Movement, and Form & Function American Modernist Jewelry, 1940-1970. Her site is a trove of modernist and Mexican silver.
This opal and gold crown is wonderful and you can clearly see the influence of the peacock’s tail that was her inspiration:
She gives a lengthy and fascinating description of this crown and I will post what she wrote:
Exquisite 14k yellow gold wedding crown with thirty-five Australian opals by merry renk, titled “James Love Peacock”; this piece just returned from the traveling exhibit “Craft in America;” inside diameter of oval-shaped crown is about 7″ (front to back) x 6-1/8″ side to side; front peacock section is approximately 5-1/2″ wide x 3-1/2″ tall; whole piece is in fine condition and comes with original handmade pouch and box by merry renk.
About this crown, merry renk said, “In the twenty-five years, 1947-1972, I designed my jewelry following the ideas of modern constructivism and non-objective concepts.
I realized in 1972, that I needed to express other ideas concerning ecology, memories and family, using symbolic realism. I was concerned about how we were poisoning our air and birds became a symbol.
I have always been fascinated with jewelry worn on the head and have made many hair combs. I have walked the San Francisco zoo those years with my growing children where we often shared space with a male peacock with his tail fanned wide and dragging the ground as he stalked about for his peahen.
In 1978, I designed a comb called “Ebony Peacock” in silver, ebony and pearls. In 1979, I made a gold comb that I called “James Love Peacock.” There was not much interest in this comb as the fashion of wearing combs at the opera, etc., was now passé. When I made plans for a wedding crown exhibit at the Artisans Gallery in san Francisco, I moved the bird from the comb onto a circle of gold peacock feathers and I moved the name along with bird.
How did I name my crown, “James Love Peacock?”
My desire was to honor my friend, the poet Carolyn Kizer, for her poem called “James Love Peacock.” When I was asked to send a copy of the poem to be exhibited along with the crown, I was stunned to discover that I had a very creative memory. I found that her poem was called “What Was in a Name” followed by “Thomas Love Peacock!” “Thomas Love Peacock!” There was no James Love Peacock anywhere in her poem.
Nevertheless, I think it is still fair to say that a poem by Pulitzer Prize Winner Carolyn Kizer inspired the name for my wedding crown, “James Love Peacock.”
Watch a video of merry renk’s crowns on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCzkCy_YaDQ