Dorrie Nossiter (1893 -1977) was an English jewelry designer who was born June 29, 1893 in Aston near Birmingham and became one of the most talented of the later wave of Arts and Crafts jewelers. She attended and trained at the Birmingham School of Art from 1910-1914. She died in 1977 after a long and highly successful career as a stylish and very fashionable designer.
Nossiter ran her own jewelry shop and workshop in London from around the 1930’s to the 1960’s. She was part of a later group of arts and crafts jewelers that included Sibyl Dunlop, Amy Sandheim and Frances Harling (Amy’s sister) as well as Bernard Instone. Their work is often similar and because it is unmarked often confused.
Nossiter was producing jewelry inspired by the natural forms of plants and flowers. Her work in both silver and gold is characterized by harmonious clusters of claw-set precious and semi-precious gemstones. She made her jewelry in the well-known style of the time – Art Deco and Arts and Crafts. To create her well designed jewelry pieces, Nossiter also used gold and sterling silver. Various gems, such as sapphire, tourmaline, jade and pearls were also incorporated into her pieces.
Especially noteworthy is that Dorrie Nossiter did not mark any of her jewelry pieces. Consequently, there are visual similarities in Nossiter’s jewelry and works of Sibyl Dunlop. Moreover, some of the products attributed to Dunlop (so called “carpet of gems” pieces) were actually works made by Nossiter.
Through the designs, settings and general method of construction of many the pieces let jewelry lovers and collectors attribute them to Dorrie Nossiter, her work is best known for its use of color resulting in floral and curvature lines that utilize gemstones in motifs.
As previously mentioned, Nossiter’s work is seldom signed or hallmarked and dating is made more difficult by the survival of few original design and exhibition photographs. Many of the names or “charming appellations” Nossiter gave to her pieces have also been lost.
As a result, it is not uncommon for Nossiter’s jewels to be confused with those of her friend and contemporary, Sibyl Dunlop, who worked in a similar idiom across a wider range. It takes a good eye to differentiate between their two styles and detect the hands of the setters (the King Brothers) who did work for both women throughout their careers.
Original boxes with trading addresses can help firm up dates and attribution to add commercial value. In addition, Nossiter's work can be distinguished by its more naturalistic and asymmetrical approach and by its use of a subtle, more muted color palette.
Among Nossiter’s famous pieces is a lovely chalcedony and amethyst silver pendant. Although unmarked, it is classic Nossiter with grape and coiled wire work in a silver design holding a cabochon amethyst. The pendant is wearable two ways, with a slightly differing design on either side. The chalcedony is a beautifully clean blue. The pendant probably dates to about 1930 when Nossiter operated from her Bond Street gallery.
Other notable pieces include a necklace and earring set comprising natural seed pearls and mixed gems, including citrine, aquamarine, topaz, and alexandrite, set in gold and gilded silver. There is also a removable brooch/pendant. The earring measure a length of 1 3/4 inches, the necklace, 16 inches, and the brooch/pendant is also 1 3/4 inches in length.
Another noteworthy creation is a multi-gem-set necklace and created about 1950. The triple row necklace of jade and lavender-jade beads, is connected at the center by a sugarloaf emerald carved with a floral motif, suspending a detachable brooch/pendant set with a large carved cabochon emerald within a border of various cut amethysts, blue zircons, emeralds, rubies, half-pearls, and small polished beads.
Nossiter married Ernest Guy Robinson in 1922. By 1935 she was living in London where her work was shown in the Art by Four Women exhibition at Walker's Gallery, London. Nossiter continued to exhibit there from 1935 to 1939 until the outbreak of World War II.