Ring in the New Year
Art Historian Toni Greenbaum writes in Art Jewelry Forum, “With eclectic indulgence, Sitwell mixed fashions medieval to modern—her costume exuding drama, if not gentility. Gigantic jewels were protection against insecurity and complemented the gowns, robes, and headdresses festooning her statuesque frame. She combined all sorts of jewelry styles, with rings, arguably, her favored format. Believing her graceful, attenuated fingers to be her best characteristic, Sitwell stacked two rings—featuring monstrous aquamarines—on the fourth finger of each hand, titling them Wages of Sin.
“My hands are my face,” she wrote, “I feel undressed without my rings.”
Dame Edith Sitwell, whose rings now reside in the famed V&A Museum in London, insisted she was no eccentric: “It’s just that I am more alive than most people,” she is quoted as saying in a 1963 Life Magazine.
Born in 1887 she was a poet, critic and improbable fashion icon. Her clothing and jewelry spoke volumes about her life as a 20th century female poet and the courage involved in defying norms for the women of her time. A modernist pioneer and a glorious example of the outsider life well led, Sitwell’s individuality and the brilliance in her rhythmic poetry resonates in the fantastic photographs that Cecil Beaton (above) took of her.