Jack Ogden (jewellery historian)

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Jack Ogden

Ogden in 2018
OccupationJewellery historian
Known forAuthentication of historic precious metal objects...[2][3][4][5]
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Durham
ThesisGold jewellery in Ptolemaic, Roman and Byzantine Egypt (1990)
Academic work
Main interests
  • Historical development of jewellery materials and techniques
  • History of the gem trade and gem cutting
  • Use of 3D graphics in re-creating historic goldwork
Notable works
Notable ideasFounding The Society of Jewellery Historians[1]

Jack Ogden, FSA,[6] FGA,[7] is a British jewellery historian with a particular interest in the development of Materials and technology. He is considered one of the foremost experts in his field.[8][9][10] He is the current President of The Society of Jewellery Historians, having held the position since February 2018, and was appointed visiting professor of Ancient Jewellery, Material and Technology, at the Birmingham School of Jewellery Birmingham City University in 2019[11]


Academic life[edit]

Ogden was born into the fourth generation of a well-known family retail jewellery company[12][13] based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but showed a strong interest in archaeology, particularly egyptology, from about the age of seven. A visit to the exhibition Tutankhamun and His Time at the Petit Palais, Paris in 1967 inspired him to study Egyptian jewellery techniques, thus blending his archaeology and jewellery backgrounds.

His first academic article, on Roman imitation diamonds,[14] was published in 1973. A detailed study of platinum group element inclusions in ancient gold objects[15] followed in 1977, that same year conversations with the late John Goodall FSA on ways to bring together academics from around the world who had an interest in the history of jewellery led to the founding of the Society of Jewellery Historians.[16] His vision here was to bring together specialists to create better understanding and dialogue between scientists and the art historians.

Ogden has written and lectured extensively on the materials and technology of ancient and historical gold jewellery and various aspects of gem history.[17][18][19][20][21] His 1982 book, Jewellery of the Ancient World, (Trefoil and Rizzoli),[22] a study of ancient Old World jewellery technology and materials, received high praise and is still considered the standard work on the subject.[23] Since then, publishers of his writings include The British Museum Press, University of California Press, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Yale University Press, the Getty Conservation Institute and several peer-reviewed journals. His books and articles are widely cited in the academic literature dealing with jewellery history and precious metals. Although primarily focussing on jewellery he has a wide interest in ancient Metals and contributed the chapter on metals in Ancient Egyptian materials and technology (Cambridge University Press, 2000).[24] He has taught short courses on the history of jewellery materials and technology in London, New York, Washington D.C., Malibu, and Stuttgart.

Ogden has made various TV appearances and radio broadcasts,[25] including interviews on historical aspects of jewellery,[26] and acted as a historical consultant and a presenter for a multi-part documentary series on sapphires by China state broadcaster Central China Television (CCTV).[27]


After leaving Tonbridge School at the age of 16, he joined the family jewellery company founded by his great-grandfather,[28] James R Ogden and Sons Ltd. He worked at both the Harrogate and London businesses until purchasing the London side of the business and the final few years of the lease in 1982, by which time he had established the Duke Street, St James's premises as a gallery specialising in ancient and historic jewellery.[29] In 1985, with the expiry of the lease, he gradually wound down his business to concentrate on consultancy work and research.[30]

Jack Ogden examining Roman copper alloy chain with a scanning electron microscope.

He also started work on his PhD with Durham University. Although leaving formal education at sixteen and with neither A levels nor a university degree, Durham was happy to accept his 1982 book as 'equivalent qualification'.[31] His supervisor was Prof John Harris, then Chair of Egyptology and the Director of the School of Oriental Studies at Durham. As a consultant, Ogden advises Museums,[32] collectors, Auction houses[33] and others, mainly on questions of authenticity of ancient and historic precious metal objects. He approaches this work holistically believing it essential to consider style, technology and composition.

He has also retained his links with the jewellery industry and served as the Secretary General to the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) and Chief Executive of the National Association of Goldsmiths (now part of the National Association of Jewellers[34]), a combined position (1995–2000)[35] and as Chief Executive of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (2004–2012).[36]

He was appointed to the Treasure Valuation Committee (responsible for agreeing a value on UK archaeological treasure finds)[37] in 1996 – 2013, serving as vice-chairman 2007 – 2013[38][39] He was on the Governing Board of the Egypt Exploration Society 1983 – 1990. Ogden is the current Chair of British Standards (BSI) Committee STI/53 (Specifications and test methods for jewellery and horology) on which he has served from 1995 to 2000 and 2005–present.[40] He was a Trustee of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (2015–2018).[41]

Qualifications and honours[edit]

Example of Dr Jack Ogden's 3D graphics – the construction of an Islamic earring type

His qualifications include a doctorate from Durham University (thesis topic Gold Jewellery in Greek, Roman and Byzantine Egypt),[42] The Gemmology Diploma (FGA)[43] (with distinction) from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and the Diploma in Art Profession Law from the Institute of Art and Law[44] (with distinction). He was Elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA) in 1980 and a life Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain in 2014.[45][46]

Personal life[edit]

Apart from research in his field, his interests include playing the 5-string banjo[47] and 3-D computer graphics. Before a knee injury he was an accomplished skier and briefly an instructor. He lives with his partner, Sara Abey in Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire, and has three daughters.

Selected bibliography[edit]

Ogden is an author or co-author of several books and numerous articles on various aspects of the history of jewellery technology and materials, from scientific to popular. A full bibliography is available.[48] Many of his articles are available online.

Books and chapters in books include[edit]


  • Jewellery of the Ancient World: The Materials and Techniques of Ancient Jewellery, Trefoil, London. OCLC No: 929802319


  • Islamic goldsmithing techniques in the early medieval period: the Benjamin Zucker collection, in ed. D.J. Content, Islamic Rings and Gems, Philip Wilson, London. OCLC No: 908849111


  • Interpreting the Past: Ancient Jewellery, British Museum Press, London and University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. ISBN 0520080300 ISBN 978-0520080300 OCLC No: 716103810 Google books, Jack Ogden – Ancient Jewellery



  • The Gold Jewellery, In ed C.-M. Bennett and P. Bienkowski, Excavations at Tawilan in Southern Jordan, Oxford University Press. OCLC No: 879106095


  • The Jewellery of Dark Age Greece: Construction and Cultural Connections. Ed.D. Williams, The Art of the Greek Goldsmith, British Museum Press, London. OCLC No: 39820658


  • Ancient Egyptian Metals, Eds. P.T. Nicholson & I. Shaw, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, Cambridge University Press. OCLC No: 449825743


  • Connections between Islam, Europe, and the Far East in the Medieval Period: The Evidence of the Jewelry Technology, Eds P. Jett, J Douglas, B. McCarthy, J Winter. Scientific Research in the Field of Asian Art, Fiftieth-Anniversary Symposium Proceedings. Archetype Publications, London in association with the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution. Link to article OCLC No: 615473193


  • Revivers of the Lost Art: Alessandro Castellani and the Quest for Classical Precision in the exhibition catalogue: Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry, edited by Susan Weber Soros and Stefanie Walker, Yale University Press and the Bard Graduate Center. (Also Italian translation 2005) OCLC No: 907117272



  • A History of Enamelling Techniques in Enamels of the World 1700 – 2000, Ed. Haydn Williams, The Khalili Family Trust, London. OCLC No: 262894331



  • With Michael Spink, The Art of Adornment: Jewellery of the Islamic Lands, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, xvii (London: Nour Foundation in association with Azimuth Editions, 2013). OCLC No: 913073688 The Khalili Collections


  • Gems and the Gem Trade in India in Beyond Extravagance: a Royal Collection of Gems and Jewels, ed. Amin Jaffer, Assouline, New York. OCLC No: 839389448 Google books – Beyond Extravagance


Articles include[edit]

  • 1977 Platinum group metal inclusions in ancient gold artefacts, Journal of Historical Metallurgy, 11, 2. pp. 53 – 72.
  • 1990 With S. Schmidt. Late Antique Jewellery: Pierced Work and Hollow Beaded Wire, Jewellery Studies 4. pp. 5 – 12.
  • 1990/1 Gold in a time of Bronze and iron, The Journal of the Ancient Chronology Forum, 4. pp. 6 – 14.
  • 1991 Classical Gold wire: Some Aspects of its Manufacture and Use, Jewellery Studies, 5. pp. 95 – 105.
  • 1992 Gold in Antiquity, Interdisciplinary Science Review, 17/3.
  • 1993 Granulation and a Greek Astronaut (a reinterpretation of Lucian) Jewellery Studies, 6. p. 73.
  • 2005 Diamonds, Head Hunters and a Prattling Fool: The British Exploitation of Borneo Diamonds, Gems and Jewellery, 14, 3, September 2005. pp. 67 – 69.
  • 2005 The Great American Platinum Controversy’. Gems and Jewellery, 14, 3 December 2005. pp. 86 – 87.
  • 2016 A Matter of Opinion, Art Antiquity and Law. 21/3, 269 – 279.


  1. ^ "Jack Ogden Society of Jewellery Historians 40th anniversary speech" held at the Goldsmiths' Hall, London by Cordeliad on You Tube
  2. ^ "CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT Public Appointments-Treasure Valuation Committee|Trustee|Dr. Jack Ogden", Bound Volume Hansard, UK Parliament, House of Commons of the United Kingdom
  3. ^ "VETTING COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP, Antiquities, Dr Jack Ogden", Masterpiece London – "Every exhibit at Masterpiece is vetted by a team of over 150 leading international specialists drawn from the diaspora of academia, museums, conservators, auction houses, dealers and galleries."
  4. ^ in Acknowledgements "I’m grateful"… "for the unique scientific skills of Dr Jack Ogden", Every Object Tells a Story by Oliver Hoare
  5. ^ Beyond Extravagance (2013), A Royal Collection of Gems and Jewels – "… this publication benefits from the scholarship of a celebrated team of contributors… Dr Jack Ogden, a renowned gemmologist and gem historian has written on the use of precious stones in Indian jewellery", Dubai PR Network – ‘’Gems and the Gem Trade in India’’ pp. 348 – 383, ed. Amin Jaffer, Assouline, New York
  6. ^ "Dr Jack M Ogden FSA, Degrees, distinctions and post nominals: PhD, FSA, Date of election: 10 January 1980” – Fellows Directory of the Society of Antiquaries of London, "Members of the Society are called Fellows and are known as Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA). To be elected persons shall be 'excelling in the knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other nations' and be 'desirous to promote the honour, business and emoluments of the Society'."
  7. ^ "HONORARY LIFE MEMBERS, J. Ogden", List of Gemmological Association of Great Britain Fellows (FGA)
  8. ^ "Ogden's combination of technological and art-historical information in jewelry studies has not been seen previously. He has broken new ground and established the path for others to follow." – Neil Letson, jewelry historian, in GIA Gems and Gemology, Winter 1983 p. 249.
  9. ^ The former curator of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Marion True, described Ogden as "a great English expert on ancient jewelry" in Michael Pfrommer, 2002, Greek Gold from Hellenistic Egypt’, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles p. ix
  10. '^ "Ogden provides a demonstration of the giant strides that have taken place in this area of Egyptology." – Oxford University Egyptologist Jaromir Malek Archived 24 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine in a review of Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology’ in the American Journal of Archaeology (AJA) 105, 2, 2001 pp. 338–340) on his chapter on "Metals"
  11. ^ The show was opened by Head of School Professor Stephen Bottomley, with guest speaker and newly-appointed Visiting Professor of Ancient Jewellery, Material and Technology, Dr Jack Ogden. Professor Bottomley and Dr Ogden awarded more than 40 industry sponsored prizes to students, including cash, pens and watches. Sponsors included luxury brands Cartier and LVMH The School of Jewellery recently joined with key members of the jewellery industry to celebrate the work of graduating students as part of the Inspired Festival
  12. ^ "Ogden's… one of Britain's most famous and prestigious jewellers." – Secret Harrogate (2015) by Paul Chrystal
  13. ^ "36. Ogden's and the tomb of Tutankhamun" – Harrogate History Tour’’ (2016) by Paul Chrystal
  14. ^ "ROMAN IMITATION DIAMONDS By JACK M. OGDEN, F.G.A." – Gem-A THE JOURNAL OF GEMMOLOGY, Jan 1973, vo.13 no.5, p.179
  15. ^ "Platinum group metal inclusions in ancient gold artefacts… January 1977… J.M. Ogden" – Journal of the Historical Metallurgy Society, 11, p. 53-72
  16. ^ "Distinguished jewellery historian Jack Ogden opened the first session with an erudite overview of the long history of the study of jewellery, stressing the necessity of a holistic approach which considers technology and technique as well as style and aesthetic." – “SJH… reviews 40:20… An Anniversary Celebration”
  17. ^ "Most widely held works about Jack Ogden" “Most widely held works by Jack Ogden" – WorldCat, Network of library content and services
  18. ^ "Jack Ogden… TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY: GOLD WORKING IN A HISTORICAL CONTEXT” – Society of North American Goldsmiths' (SNAG) Conference 2013
  19. ^ "Jack Ogden – Sunlight and Icicles—the History of Diamond Cutting and Assessment" World of Gems Conference III in Chicago organized by Gemworld International
  20. ^ "we look forward to welcoming Dr. Jack Ogden, a world-leading expert in ancient jewellery, for a lecture… From the Meticulous to the Sublime" – Amaranthine Exhibition Launch, Kallos Gallery
  21. ^ In the foreword to the catalogue of his ring collection, Slava Yevdayev noted Ogden's "unmatched knowledge and expertise", Jeffrey Spier and Jack Ogden – Rings of the Ancient World, Wiesbaden, Reichert. p. 8.
  22. ^ Author: "Jack Ogden, Publisher: London : Trefoil Books, 1982" WorldCat OCLC Number: 929802319 – Jewellery of the ancient world
  23. ^ In a review of Ogden's book, Jewellery of the Ancient World, Dr Reynold Higgins, former Keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities at the British Museum said "Here is the book which we have long been waiting for: the first comprehensive account of the materials and technology of ancient jewellery” and “This book is nothing short of a masterpiece” – the journal of Society of Jewellery Historians, Jewellery Studies 1, 1983–4, pp. 83–4.
  24. ^ Cambridge University Press Catalogue – Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology Edited by Paul T. Nicholson Cardiff University Ian Shaw University of Liverpool
  25. ^ "The enduring appeal of this ancient resin, Claudia Hammond talks about amber to Victoria Finlay, the author of Jewels: A Secret History at the Gemological Association of Great Britain along with their Chief Executive Jack Ogden.” – BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour, 02 Aug 2007
  26. ^ "Jack Ogden, chief executive of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, thinks the curse is just sour grapes. "Like most big diamonds the Koh-i-Noor is associated with bad luck, but that tends to be mentioned by people who no longer own it," he says. "Diamond was originally valued for its hardness, its imperviousness to man – the word has its root in the Latin word for invincible. As such, it became a symbol of enduring power. Man only mastered diamond when he started cutting it in the 15th century." – The Telegraph, The Koh-i-Noor: diamond robbery? by Neil Tweedie, 29 July 2010
  27. ^ Dr Jack Ogden explains the history of Sapphire ("蓝 简介: 从铁腕教皇英诺森三世到太阳王路易十四,蓝宝石见证了欧洲历史上神权到王权的更迭,映射着欧洲大陆波澜壮阔的历史。英国王室对蓝宝石情有独钟。从圣爱德华蓝宝石到帝国王冠,从猎豹胸针到戴妃蓝宝石戒指,直到今天,在英国,蓝宝石仍然延续着帝国悠久的传统,荣耀着自己的国民。肉体腐朽,宝石长存。这小小的石头让我们照见了生命的可贵,这或许是蓝宝石令人如此神往的真正原因。") – BLUE by Tencent for China Central Television (CCTV)
  28. ^ "J R Ogden… Born in Leeds. Lived in Harrogate throughout his life and ran a jewellery business from local premises in James Street; also ran a shop at 41 Duke Street, London, which remained in the family business until his great grandson Jack Ogden (q.v.) changed careers." – Research, Biographical details, the British Museum
  29. ^ "Visiting Jack Ogden, a fifth-generation English jeweler who was really more scholar than dealer, was always a special treat. With him pricing was a problem. Jack's prices were always too low. I would generally refuse to buy from him unless he raised the price somewhat." – Benjamin Zucker, author and gem merchant in his introductory essay to the catalogue produced when part of his ring collection as sold, Cycles of Life: Rings from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection, ed Sandra Hindman, Chicago. New York and Paris: les Enluminures 2014. P. 17
  30. ^ “2016 Gemologist Jack Ogden closely examines the gems and notes that what appear to be single bore drill holes – thus more fitting to a later time period…”, Timeline since 1898, THE PIPRAHWA PROJECT – One of the world's pre-eminent discoveries of relics of Gautama Buddha
  31. ^ Jack Ogden has "won the respect of scholars and museum curators all over the world." – Diana Scarisbrick, jewellery historian and author in International Gold Corporation journal, Aurum, 16, 1983 p. 57
  32. ^ "Indian Diamonds: Cutters, Courts, and Commerce, Jack Ogden, Independent Jewelry Historian” – Past and Future: Art and Preservation in the Deccan, Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially ‘the Met’), New York City
  33. ^ "Dr. Jack Ogden is a world-renowned jewellery industry analyst and a leading expert on jewellery history, with a special focus on the development of materials and technology, its dating and authenticity." – Timeline Auctions SPECIALISTS
  34. ^ National Association of Jewellers
  35. ^ Taking over from Michael as Chief Executive of the NAG on I July will be Dr Jack Ogden. He will also be nominated as the next Secretary General of CIBJO. – Gem & Jewellery News – VOLUME 4 NUMBER, 3 June 1995, pp. 1,39
  36. ^ "Ogden to Head Gem-A, Renowned gemologist and jewelry historian Jack Ogden, FGA, was appointed chief executive of Gem-A, the Gemmological Association and Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain, on Nov. 1, 2004." – JCK (jewelry the Industry Authority), 1 April 2005 by Gary Roskin
  37. ^ "In July 1996, the Treasure Act was passed. The Treasure Act replaced the medieval law of Treasure Trove in England and Wales. This Act gave some protection to certain archaeological finds, acting to encourage their reporting. However, a great many objects were being found by members of the public which were not 'treasure', but which were nonetheless important in building up knowledge of the archaeology and history of England and Wales. The Treasure Act code of practice" – Portable Antiquities Scheme
  38. ^ "History and former members With the commencement of the Treasure Act on 24 September 1997, the Treasure Valuation Committee replaced the earlier Treasure Trove Reviewing Committee. Those who have served on the Treasure Valuation Committee include:… Jack Ogden – An archaeologist and historian focusing on the development of jewellery materials and techniques” – Treasure Valuation Committee (Jack Ogden is the second from left in the photo, Treasure Valuation Committee at work)
  39. ^ "Treasure Valuation Committee agree £3.285 million valuation for the Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon Hoard... The members of the Committee are: Professor Norman Palmer, CBE (Chairman), …Dr Jack Ogden” – British Museum Press releases, Staffordshire hoard valuation
  40. ^ "Committee members… Individual Capacity – Gemmology & Precious Metals Expert" – STI/53 – Specifications and test methods for jewellery and horology, Bsi Standards Development
  41. ^ "Officers & Council Members… MEMBERS OF THE BOARD… J. Ogden" – Council Members of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain
  42. ^ Durham E-Theses – Gold jewellery in Ptolemaic, Roman and Byzantine Egypt. Ogden, Jack M in two volumes
  43. ^ Gemmology Diploma FGA, "the most prestigious international gemmological qualification in the gem and jewellery trade."
  44. ^ The Institute of Art & Law – Internationally recognised source of knowledge on art and cultural heritage law
  45. ^ "HONORARY LIFE MEMBERS… J. Ogden" – the Gemmological Association of Great Britain
  46. ^ "awards were presented to Dr Jack Ogden FGA… an Honorary Lifetime Membership of the Association for their outstanding contributions to Gem-A" – "Gem-A reveals graduation ceremony award winners", Professional Jeweller, 7 November 2014
  47. ^ Jack Ogden published on YouTube, Nov 5, 2014, "First attempt at creating and playing my banjo along with a backing track using Band in a Box. The track is fairly simple, key of G and usual banjo tuning."
  48. ^ BIBLIOGRAPHY – Jack Ogden, Academia.edu, a platform for academics to share research papers – Mission: “to accelerate the world's research.”