It’s time to round out my reading list – if you’ve missed the first half of this, you can find it here: Diamonds and Jewelry – Recommended Reads
While I’m a lover of all fine jewelry and can appreciate anything from any era or culture (I’m currently looking for a good, comprehensive read on the Al-Thani Collection), there’s a special place in my heart for antique European pieces. The next five titles below tend to lean more in that direction, but I wanted to include them because I want to continue only recommending books I thought were worth adding to my own library, and I believe knowing the history and meaning behind jewelry can inspire and plant creative seeds for future pieces.
With that in mind, I think any of these will be perfect for curling up with, along with a nice glass of wine (or whatever your poison).
Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty, by Diana Scarisbrick
Perhaps a little on the nose, but a logical start – the author, an art historian specializing in the history of engraved gems and jewelry, goes in-depth to share the origins, meaning, and evolution of rings, accompanied by many images of fine examples.
Portrait Jewels: Opulence and Intimacy from the Medici to the Romanovs, by Diana Scarisbrick
Also by Diana Scarisbrick, this title might seem a little out of place – delicate, miniature painted faces on porcelain and glass and carved intaglios might seem the furthest thing from diamond rings and jewelry. Trust me, you’ve never seen any paintings with frames like these…
Jewels of the Renaissance, by Yvonne Hackenbroch
Abridged from Dr. Hackenbroch’s original text from 1979, this is a beautiful volume of Renaissance jewels, each of which rival anything extravagant we could imagine from contemporary jewelry houses. Delve into creations from the age of dynasties, the dawn of globe-trotting when science took on myth, and the blossoming of art.
Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, by Elizabeth Taylor
What’s left to say? The great Dame herself shares her insight and the origins, along with some endearing tidbits, behind many of her most iconic pieces.
Chaumet: Photography, Arts, Fetes, by Antoine De Baecque, Gabriel Bauret, Jerome Neutres
As a student (read: keen observer) of historical royal jewelry with a life goal of owning a tiara (a small one will do), I was surprised to find not many people were aware of Chaumet. Founded in 1780 and proudly installed in the famed Place Vendôme, this house is literally a crown jeweler. Known for their exquisite tiaras, their creations have topped many a royal head – one of which was Empress Joséphine, wife of Napoleon. This is a three-book set in a slipcase, each exploring the history of Chaumet according to a theme: Photography (Records & Archives), Arts (Artistic Inspiration), and Fêtes (Historical Events, Famous Patrons/Commissions).
Share your favorite coffee table book or educational read on jewelry with us in the comments!
Written by Gloria Cheng