This brooch is by one of the preeminent British jewellery designers of the 1960s. It is known as a ‘Cortina’ and my version is made of 9ct gold. The brooch was designed in 1965 by Ernest Blyth for the Leicester Jewellers George Tarratt. The brooch is made up of three separate but fused plates of gold, each plate is designed as a number of gold bars of different lengths. The three plates have been assembled to look like a stylised six-pointed star. There is also a silver version of this brooch.
George Tarratt established his company in 1913 specialising in quality silverware, his son Ivan joined the company in 1936. It was Ivan who expanded the jewellery lines employing the likes of Geoffrey Bellamy, Ernest Blyth and Toni Taylor.
Ernest Blyth was a British jewellery designer who was greatly influenced by the designs of Georg Jensen and in particular Henning Koppel. Henning Koppel (8th May 1918 – 27th June 1981) was born in Copenhagen, he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’s School of Sculpture in 1936–37. As a Jew, Koppel sought refuge in Sweden during WWII. He returned to Denmark in 1945 and began working for Jensen. Koppel’s early work for Georg Jensen focused on his use of abstract and sculptural forms creating very distinctive designs. Koppel designed both jewellery and silverware.
A typical Koppel organic flowing designed brooch
I have several Koppel pieces in my collection, but as ever am always on the look out for that special elusive piece that can be worn anywhere and everywhere.
George Tarratt was bought by the Pragnell family in 1996 and the brand was fully integrated in 2019. There is still a Pragnell presence in Leicester today.
I bought the Cortina brooch while staying in Bath for a visit to one of my favourite museums, the Fashion Museum. They have a wonderful exhibition entitled ‘A history of Fashion through a 100 Objects’, for any fashion fetishist it is a must.
Cream and dark navy blue wool jersey, ‘Mondrian’ dress, Yves Saint Laurent, 1965 (photo from the Fashion Museum Bath)
I can just imagine a young woman wearing this dress with my Cortina brooch pinned high up on the left.