Join us for our weekly BAJ:Insight on the latest industry trends by Rachael Taylor, a freelance journalist who writes about jewellery for a number of titles, including The Financial Times, The Jewellery Editor and Retail Jeweller. In her 10 years reporting on the industry, she has travelled the globe to visit key industry fairs, descended a Fairtrade gold mine on top of a Peruvian mountain, toured silver jewellery factories in Thailand, and regularly has access to the most sparkling jewels and people in the business.
I have no idea what the collective noun for jewellery books would be – a brood of books, a nest of novels, a troop of tomes? With the sheer volume of manuscripts available, I think we’d have to aim for something more majestic – a pride, perhaps, or a zeal? Or my favourite animal collective, a mischief. Whether your interest lies in emeralds, Cartier, technical skills, or the correlation between hip hop and jewels, there is a jewellery book out there for you. If you are lucky enough to get some quiet time this term, and want to expand your jewellery knowledge, here are just a few suggestions for extra-curricular reads. Most are not cheap (although check out Amazon for pre-loved/discounted copies), but these books will form a library of reference that you will turn to time and again throughout your career.
Chaumet: Parisian Jeweler Since 1780
This coffee table book joined the murder of jewellery books on sale when it was released by Flammarion in September. The book, penned by multiple authors, charts the journey of Parisian jeweller Chaumet, from its days as official jeweller to Napoleon I to creator of jewels for the stars of the silver screen. Expect to see design references inspired by Italian Renaissance, art nouveau, art deco, avant-garde periods, the New Look pioneered by Christian Dior, and the decadence of the 1960s and 1970s.
Flammarion, £ 80
Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed
The author of this book, Vincent Meylan, was granted full access to the jewellery archives of auction house Christies, as the title suggests, which stretch back 250 years. The pages chart the stories behind some of Christie’s most notable jewellery sales, with images of original documents, as well as illustrations of the jewels and their owners. This is a perfect purchase for lovers of royal jewels – the collections of Queen Charlotte, Princess Augusta of Hesse Cassel, Mary Queen of Scots and Princess Margaret all feature, as well as those of many more dignitaries.
ACC Art Books, £ 55
The Pearl Necklace
Mikimoto teamed up with luxury publisher Assouline (its boutique on London’s Picadilly, opposite the Royal Academy of Art is well worth a visit – a heaven for book lovers) to create a definitive history of the pearl necklace. While you might wonder at how a single item of jewellery can fill so many pages (300!), the pearl necklace has been a chameleon throughout history. From the reserve of royals when only natural pearls were available, to its democratisation by Kokichi Mikimoto and his cultured pearls at the turn of the 20th century, to a desirable fashion item: it’s quite a journey.
Jewel: A Celebration of Earth’s Treasures
A veritable compendium of gemstone knowledge, with a fuzzy black velveteen cover. From practical and gemmological knowledge on individual gemstones and metals to famous examples and uses throughout history, this is a seriously useful book. It is beautifully illustrated, too, with gorgeous gems and jewels, both modern and ancient. I have a copy within reaching distance of my desk, and it is consistently brilliant when you need to quickly reference the Maharajas’ jewels, say, or a famous diamond, vesuvianite, or any other offbeat gem you can think of (and many more you can’t).
Flora: The Art of Jewelry
Released at the beginning of this year, this is a celebration of jewellery with a floral theme. Botanicals have been an enduring theme of jewellery throughout history and continue to captivate today. This book, penned by French writers Patrick Mauriés and Évelyne Possémé, specifically focuses on floral jewels found within the collections of Parisian museum Musée des Arts Décoratifs on the edge of the city’s leafy Jardin des Tuileries. Precious blooms range from stylised Empiric florals to the highly naturalistic blossoms of the 19tch century and the angular styles evoked during the height of Art Deco.
Thames & Hudson, £16.95