Pages and pages of jewelry

A dazzling new Thames & Hudson book offers another chance to walk through jewelry history.

Let’s say it in the plainest of terms: I am a devoted admirer of jewelry.

In fact, I’m already counting the days until New York City Jewelry Week 2019, having truly enjoyed 2018’s inaugural edition).

The week, this year set for Nov. 18-24, will again include exhibitions, lectures, workshops, tours, collaborations and special events, all devoted to promoting the world of jewelry.

Until then, I’m happy to find other ways to indulge this passion for jewelry – and a new book from Thames & Hudson is certainly helping with that.

“Brooches and Badges” ($24.95) by Rachel Church, released earlier this month, is the latest in the stylish series of “Accessories” books from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Focusing on the V&A’s famed collection, this latest installment traces the evolution of brooches and badges from, we’re told in promotional materials, “medieval ring brooches to the pop-DIY aesthetic of 20th-century counterculture badges.”

Church, curator in the Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics, and Glass department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, with a special responsibility for the rings collection, writes in the introduction:

“The history of the brooch, and its design, are inseparable from the history and design of dress. Brooches began their life as practical garment fasteners, and their use has risen and fallen as changes in fashion have made them more or less wearable. From the earliest years, jewelers and goldsmiths took this necessary dress fastener and turned it into a work of art.”

That is evident from even the quickest look through “Brooches and Badges,” a 160-page hardcover book with color illustrations throughout.

I was charmed by a heart-shaped silver, rock crystal and garnet pin from Scotland (1700-1800); an artfully balanced silver, silver-gilt, turquoise and garnet pin by William Burges, England, circa 1864; an elegant cast glass, enameled gold and fire opal creation by René Lalique, Paris (1903-4); and a swoon-worthy floral-themed pin, a gold and enamel work made by Georges Fouquet and designed by Charles Desrosiers, Paris, 1901. That’s not to mention a Sputnik-inspired circa-1958 gold pin by Cartier; a 1967 silver and glass, fused-to-ceramic design by Elsa Freund (USA); and … oh, I could go on for days.

The book is a wealth of material, including depictions of figures throughout history wearing pins, from Midshipman Robert Deans, circa 1807, to Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, in 2016.

It is quite the grand tradition, as “Brooches and Badges” so clearly shows.

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– Mary Shustack

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