Lin Cheung is a maker of evocative and conceptually-driven jewellery. While completing an MA in Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery at the Royal College of Art in London, she studied under tutors from the New Jewellery Movement, who encouraged her to explore ideas before choosing a specific material or process.
Her early jewellery and object-based projects were deeply rooted in memory and personal history. More recent works have re-interpreted traditional forms, such as lockets, in fresh, contemporary, and tactile ways which emphasise the intimate nature of objects worn on the body. Cheung is interested in visualising the hidden symbolic values and social functions found or perceived in jewellery and objects as they are worn, used, and treasured.
Lin Cheung is Senior Lecturer of Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London.
24 Carats of Gold
Rolling mill printing
Average Ø 15mm
24 Carats of Gold, Lin Cheung, 2012. Photo: Lin Cheung
Cheung’s most recent work, 24 Carats of Gold, is a set of homemade pennies formed out of gold, ranging from 1 to 24 carats. The gold and silver used was melted down from Cheung’s collection of sentimental jewellery; modern pennies served as the rolling dies.
The work is inspired in part by her Paralympic medal commission, and by convict love-tokens of the 1820s and 1830s: coins defaced, smoothed and inscribed by British prisoners to give to loved ones before they were transported to Australia.
The work is also a self-imposed test on Cheung’s resources as a jewellery maker. Placing herself in the position of ‘having’ to leave everything behind and start a new life, she has invented her own currency from the most precious element.
24 Carats of Gold was made for the exhibition 'Transplantation: a sense of place and culture: British and Australian narrative jewellery' curated by Professor Norman Cherry.
Convict love token, 1792. National Museum of Australia Collection. Photo Jason McCarthy, National Museum of Australia
Lin Cheung: “The idea of making my own coinage came out of a desire for taking something personal and practical that I could easily pocket and use. Convict tokens are beautiful, historic artefacts and the inscriptions on them of remembrance, loss of freedom and names not to be forgotten are a moving testament to this dubious period in British history.”
Lin Cheung: “While pure gold is yellow, other forms can be developed into various colours. These colours are generally obtained by alloying gold with other elements in various proportions. In this case, an alloy of 50% silver and 50% copper was used.
For example, alloys which are mixed 14 parts gold to 10 parts alloy create 14 carat gold; 18 parts gold to 6 parts alloy creates 18 carat; and so on. There are hundreds of possible alloys and mixtures, but in general the addition of silver will colour gold white, and the addition of copper will colour it red.”