A gem of a jewelry book

Those with a love of jewelry can never have enough.

That feeling often extends to books about jewelry as well.

That was my train of thought when the review copy of the recent Thames & Hudson release “Jewels & Jewelry” by Clare Phillips ($40) arrived in the WAG offices.

Phillips is a curator in the Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where she specializes in the history of jewelry.

Her expertise is evident throughout the soft-cover book’s 200-plus pages, in which Phillips surveys jewelry through the ages complemented by detailed photographs that focus on both the beauty of the featured materials as well as the intricate craft of making jewelry.

Designs showcase styles and practices of their day while also spotlighting the dazzling collection of the V&A. It all serves to trace the development of Western jewelry over the last 500 years.

Billed as a “must-have resource for collectors, designers, students and lovers of jewelry,” “Jewels & Jewelry” is indeed a broad sweep in which the reader can advance through sections devoted to materials (silver, diamonds, pearls, glass and enamel, among others), the chronology of style (think “Masterpieces of the Middle Ages” through “The 2010s”) and finally, manufacturing and distribution, touching on topics such as hallmarking and shops.

Even the most casual skim yields a dazzling array of treasures. There’s a circa 1675 locket of enameled gold and a 1908 silver brooch designed by WAG favorite Josef Hoffmann, Cartier vanity cases  from the 1920s and filigree Berlin iron earrings circa 1815. In addition, there are delightful examples from René Lalique, Georg Jensen and Marjorie Schick (whose work was prominent in “Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21stCentury” at the Katonah Museum of Art).

While looking forward to spending more time with the book, it’s already clear that it makes a worthy addition to any jewelry lover’s library.

For more, visit thamesandhudsonusa.com.

– Mary Shustack

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