28 September 2016

Twentieth-Century Jewellery

Twentieth-Century Jewellery
Twentieth-Century Jewellery: From Art Nouveau To Contemporary Design In Europe & The United States, by Alba Cappellieri, surveys jewellery from the 1890s to the first decade of the 21st century. Its plates section features 300 colour photographs (with many full-page images) of jewellery from museums and private collections, including masterpieces such as Faberge's Imperial Coronation Egg and Cartier's Panthere brooch. An extensive bibliography lists jewellery books published since 1923.

The book begins with a fifty-page essay on the development of jewellery design since 1900, which focuses on Europe (especially Italy; it was published in Italian as Gioielli Del Novocento) and America, though also briefly mentions Russia and Japan. Cappellieri cites the pave secret, serti mysterieux technique of Van Cleef & Arpels as "one of the most important innovations in the history of twentieth-century jewellery".

Cappellieri also discusses "the transitions between jewellery and the arts: design, architecture and fashion". This cultural context is sometimes excessive (for example, a full-page reproduction of a Giacomo Balla painting "that beautifully sums up the period between 1929 and the end of the Second World War. On 24 October 1929, which was a Thursday, the Dow Jones index crashed...").

Nevertheless, Twentieth-Century Jewellery is a comprehensive survey of modern jewellery, featuring jewels from a wider range of sources than other books on the subject. H Clifford Smith wrote Jewellery, the first comprehensive jewellery history, in 1908. A History Of Jewellery 1100-1870 (Joan Evans, 1953) is the other standard work. Modern Jewellery: An International Survey 1890-1963 (Graham Hughes, 1963) was the first guide to modern jewellery design. 7,000 Years Of Jewellery (Hugh Tait, 1986) is the most comprehensive international history of jewellery.