Entries in best jewelry book (5)
Have you ever dreamed of going into the vaults and archives of the infamous, world-renowned auction house Christie's?! I feel like I dream about that on a daily basis and although I've never gotten my chance, author Vincent Meylan may hold the key to unlocking that door with his latest book called Christie's The Jewellery Archives Revealed. In it, he chronicles some of the most headlining jewelry auctions--from British Royalty jewels, to Elizabeth Taylor's collection, and everything in between. Mr. Meylan had insider's access to the Christie's archives to research for this book, where he brings hundreds of color illustrations, including more than 100 original documents reproduced just for the pages of this tome.
The history behind Christie's is even more extensive than what I thought--with their first sale being on December 5, 1766! It is interesting to read that during this revolutionary time, the events that took place may have actually benefited Christie's because so many people of royalty were being sent to the guillotine. Chapter two has quite the attention-grabbing title of "Murdered Queens." The extensive stories behind each historical piece are quite fascinating, and I am thoroughly enjoying the paintings of the royals as well as photos of the jewels which illustrate the book. It gives you insight into European royalty as well, including history and intriquing stories behind many of their ill-fated lives.
Chapter 11 is a favorite, titled "Diamonds are Christie's Best Friends," it chronicles a few of the top-selling, biggest, rarest and most stunning diamonds to ever grace Christie's auction floor. This chapter opens up about how mysterious and extensive their diamond sales were over the past couple centuries. The earliest diamond consignments reveal not much on where they came from...and in the same breadth, where did they end up once sold? A trio of rubies, for example, went up for auction in 1891. The weight and rarity of any one of these, if they were to resurface, would shatter any record ever set. So astonishing.
Aside from the last chapter, it is noteworthy to check out the Appendix. It lists significant names of pieces/collections that went up for auction by year, starting with the year 1767. It is a great, quick reference as well as a "who's who" amongst those who sold pieces through Christie's.
The auction world is quite mysterious, legendary and totally unique. It is one of my favorite parts of my jewelry hobby. This book encompasses all this and more, and should you find yourself daydreaming of all the jaw-dropping jewels that once passed through Christie's auction house--you might want to buy yourself this book to know exactly how incredible they truly are!
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I opened up this book knowing very little about the French designer Lydia Courteille. I've seen her incredible designs on Rihanna, at trade shows, in magazines, and every time I see one of her pieces, I have a slight heart attack. Her over-the-top and bold creativity is something that I vibe with, so I was really curious and excited that this monograph depicting her life, inspirations and collections was published. Actually, I take that back, it comes out November 16th, but I luckily got my hands on an advance copy thanks to the publisher. I made the bad decision of finally snuggling up to this book around 10:30 pm on a Friday night, thinking I would just look at the pictures and fall asleep. Nope. I was awake until early morning, reading, gazing and overly relating to this incredible woman and feeling so many connections that I never knew!
What caught my attention were many of the depictions of her life growing up, her penchant for antique jewelry and how it opened up the jewelry world for her, and to learn Lydia is a gemologist as well! Like I said, so many relatable moments while reading, I had to rub my eyes a few times. I love the tales from her childhood and the nuances that have connected her to the world of jewelry. Small items or events in her life have all shaped and steered her in the direction of jewelry and it is wonderful to read about these subtle hints she experienced growing up. Acknowledging them and connecting them is so fun.
Her jewelry is art--it is colorful beyond all rainbows and in a league of its own. As you can see from the photos above which I took of some of my favorite pages, she has so many different inspirations. Things like architecture of her beloved Paris, literature, film, her love of unusual gemstones, memento mori, and of course antique jewelry. Lydia has a knack for juxtaposing two completely unique things, creating gorgeous harmony which has her collectors wanting more. I hope to someday meet Lydia and her head-turning jewels. If only the setting could be in Paris at her atelier at Place Vendóme. That would be just as dreamy as this book. Happy reading!
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The book, Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty will forever go down in history as one of the most epic jewelry tomes. Every page turned, a slight gasp can easily become hyperventilation with illustrations depicting some incredible rings. There are so many examples of fine, historic rings dating back to the Byzantine 6th & 7th Century, even earlier Greek and Roman examples and Egyptian hieroglyphic engraved rings. The information-packed book is one to be studied and may I suggest, keeping a notebook on hand for note-taking and jotting down facts that grab your attention. Like one of my favorite facts--something I hadn't known before--enamel was introduced in the 14th Century to ornament flowers and leaves on shoulders of rings. Since then, enamel has continued to be a favorite of designers and even consumers, like myself. I have always had a thing for enameled jewelry--the fine examples shown in this book of 14th Century enameled rings will blow you away!
I purchased this book several years ago and read it little by little in between working long hours and keeping up with a blog. Recently, I decided to sit down and finish what I had started and read the entire book...and I am so glad that I devoted the time to doing so!
Most of the pieces featured come from the collection of Mr. Benjamin Zucker, as well as the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, the Freud Museum in London, the Cartier Collection and various private collectors. The book travels through both time and topics, each chapter depicting a theme and running through the examples of rings significant to that theme starting from the first glimpses and then continuing on upward. The book starts out with a very important topic--Signets--perhaps the essence of rings and where they all began. A topic both adamant and necessary--Love, Marriage and Friendship--is by far a leading chapter and very informational. Favorites amongst collectors, like a gimmel ring or fede ring, are depicted here. My favorite part was reading the Latin inscriptions inside posy rings, like In Thee Made I My Choyce Alone, Love Is The Bond of Peace, God Above Joynd Us In Love, Love Me Only, Kepe Me In Mynd, Feare God Love Me, Love Well Thy Frende Tyll Deathe de Parte.
Amongst other topics, Memento Mori and Memorial rings are discussed--which are especially interesting to learn about and also as a collector, to be aware of the difference between them, although sometimes it could be a fine line! Understanding history's greatest events and how they've shaped jewelry/ring design is abundant throughout this book and this topic is terribly intriguing. Memento Mori jewelry would never even exist if the excruciatingly high mortality rates were such a part of everyday life during the 17th Century.
I also enjoyed the last chapter called The Ring as an Accessory which delves into rings with a purpose, like ring watches, rings that hold handkerchiefs, and the famous calendar rings which were all the rage during the early 1800s. An extensive bibliography, notes to the text, notes to the illustrations and index end the book. As a reader, you are left wanting to reading more by Diana Scarisbrick, and you'll be lucky to find out she has written a few more in the category of Jewelry. Happy reading!
I've decided to add another segment to Gem Gossip after getting LOTS of questions in my inbox and finding it difficult to answer everyone! Since I love to connect with my readers, I thought it was unfair that I couldn't find time to answer everyone--so, Ask Gem Gossip was created! This will allow me to take the necessary time to get back to everyone's questions, and letting others in on our conversations! Whenever I post an #AskGemGossip photo on Instagram, you can ask your question in the comment section. Or you can always fill out the Contact page, with the subject #AskGemGossip...Hope you enjoy!
@taniadundou writes: If you ever see a portrait ring similar to your blindfold lady, I’d be super interested! But maybe you don’t see those in your travels in North America? Do you have one era that you collect more than others?
Gem Gossip answers: yes! I rarely come across rings with painted portraits here in the States, that is why when traveling abroad I made sure to buy things that I knew I would never or rarely see here. That portrait ring was one of them! I do tend to be infatuated with the Victorian Era more than others, but also love Art Deco. Lately I’ve been on a 60s/70s kick, loving big bold all-gold designs.
@theoneilovenyc writes: I have way too many questions for this IG post haha, but alas, I’ll ask one. What is your favorite book on antique jewelry symbolism? I’ve been searching in every direction to find an encyclopedia of such...
Gem Gossip answers: I’m working on a compiled list of all the jewelry books one would need to create a nice library...more on that soon! But, yes...you’re right, there’s not really a book that focuses solely on jewelry symbolism--there totally should be! But the book, Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria: A Mirror to the World has a chapter called The Language of Jewellery which pertains to symbolism!
@brittchamp3 writes: What is the best place to shop for antique jewelry?
Gem Gossip answers: This is a tough question to narrow it down to one particular place, because I feel like there’s many stores out there I have yet to discover...but the one place I would say would be the World Wide Web! Sites like eBay, Etsy and Ruby Lane make it easy for a collector to find what they’ve been searching for right from the comfort of their home. I also recently became a huge fan of live auctions--some of my best finds came from an auction house. For a list of the best auction houses, click here.
@lisajshuler writes: What is the one piece that got away that you still think about? I know we insane jewelry lovers all have many, but what is the one that stands out?
Gem Gossip answers: Ughh...I can still remember the day and all that was happening. It was eBay of course, and the biggest, mossy green emerald and diamond ring had just alerted me on my phone that it was about to end. I was in the middle of an appraisal for a client and couldn’t really bid. I remember slyly typing in some ridiculous bid and having to put my phone away immediately after. I wasn’t able to check my phone until a few hours later, only to see I was outbid and that the ring was more perfect than ever!
@shopfiligree writes: What are your top 3 favorite pieces from your personal collection?
Gem Gossip answers: My antique engagement ring--my garnet, diamond and enamel ring from Skinner auction house--and my Gram’s gold and glass ring she gave to me. (pictured above)
Rings is a perfectly proportioned helping of history and meaning behind these keepsakes we call rings. The book is written by Rachel Church, who has the most sought-after (in my opinion) job ever created--she is a curator for the Victorian & Albert Museum in London, with "a special responsibility for the rings collection." That responsibility has allowed her to write this book, which chronicles the museum's amazing collection of rings. Through various acquisitions--from donors to collectors--the vast majority is impeccably displayed. Donors like: Edmund Waterton, Reverend Chauncey Hare Townshend, Joan Evans and Patricia V. Goldstein. The book also describes historical eras in terms of ring design, illustrated with examples which are a part of the V&A Museum Collection. I highly recommend this book to any jewelry or ring collector--up next is a much need trip to see this in person! (Hopeful sigh)
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