The artist designed around 40 items of jewellery between 1941 and 1970. To revisit this discipline over three decades underlines his commitment to it as well as explaining why there are some variations within it due to the number of years that passed from his first contribution to the very last. Dali was a busy man who would never have had the time to learn how to manufacture jewellery himself, nor perhaps the inclination, and so he would hire experienced technicians to carry out his designs on his behalf. This is a common situation for most multi-disciplined artists who love to concentrate on design and devote as much time as possible to that. It was New York-based Carlos Alemany was a talented silver and goldsmith who worked many of his ideas into reality and they would often sit together and review potential jewels to be used, normally selecting by colour and quality.

The photograph captured on the left is copyright to Sotheby's and is from their sale of The Eye of Time in 2014. This brooch went for a purchase price of over $1m. It is known to have come directly from the artist and there were only around four variants of this design in circulation at the time, to the best of our knowledge. Several of these items have changed hands on numerous occasions, sometimes between friends of the artist and also sometimes between the richer members of western society. The museums and foundations set up in Dali's name have attempted to acquire some of these from time to time and jewellery design is being seen as increasing in importance with regards his overall career oeuvre. They also are ideal additions to exhibitions about his work, able to take up very little space whilst also adding that wow factor for excited visitors, many of whom would never even have known about his work in this discipline.

Additionally, with regards curators, Dali was someone who provided a consistency across disciplines and so you might be able to put together jewellery, paintings, and perhaps a sculpture in the same room and still have a common theme running throughout. This would not be possible with many other artists in history. His clocks, of course, can be seen within the item on this page and they continued into all manner of different artworks from his career. Most famously, they would melt within one of his masterpiece paintings, The Persistence of Memory, though he would also morph them in other ways elsewhere. Dali made a business success of his career by having this strong brand and consistency of content was key to that. There were also large numbers of portraits, too, often of his wife, Gala. His love of attractive women also made the move into jewellery and photography all the more inevitable.

"...Anthropomorphic themes appear and reappear in my jewels. I see the human form in trees, leaves, animals; I see animal and vegetal characteristics in humans. My art — in painting, diamonds, rubies, pearls, emeralds, gold, chrysolite — demonstrate how metamorphosis comes about; human beings create and change. When they sleep, they change totally — into flowers, plants, trees. The new metamorphosis takes place in Heaven. The body becomes once again whole and reaches perfection..."

Dali took his work with jewellery very seriously, he would often tell others not to take his work in this discipline as just a bit of fun. His surrealist representations within silver, gold and jewels were surrealist representations of important ideas. Those unaware might misinterpret his content as just a playful disturbance of reality, without any real point. Instead, he always had much to say, but it would take some learning for us to understand quite what he was saying, but that can be said about his paintings as well. His earlier artworks which were based on impressionism and cubism were, naturally, far easier to absorb, but at that point we were still waiting to discover the true Dali. Once he switched to Surrealism he would then create a series of visual symbols which he re-used many times.

Jewellery Designs by Salvador Dali

  • Daphne and Apollo
  • Explosion
  • Lapis Lazuli Cross
  • Leaf Veined Case
  • Leaf Veined Hands
  • Madonna of the Aquamarine
  • Ophelia
  • Peace Medal
  • Ruby Lips
  • Slow Ring
  • The Eye of Time
  • The Living Flower
  • The Gold Cube Cross
  • The Honeycomb Heart
  • The Light of Christ
  • The Royal Heart
  • The Pomegranate Heart
  • The Space Elephant
  • The Tree of Life Bracelet
  • Twig Cross
  • The Bleeding World
  • Tristan and Isolde