I have one more book to share with you for this week. Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed by Vincent Meylan is a treasure trove of royal jewelry secrets. The author was given permission to view Christie’s extensive archives and this book is the result of his painstaking research.
The book is cleverly divided by themes. Each chapter takes on a specific theme and then breaks it down even further by the royal, their jewelry and the history of the jewelry. For example the first chapter is titled Guillotine Diamonds and discusses Madame La Comtesse du Barry and her jewelry. The second chapter focuses on the murdered queens/kings: Mary, Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette of France, Draga of Serbia and Ludwig II and their valuables.
There are a number of well-written and well-researched articles tracing the history of royal jewelry. The photographs are plentiful and spectacular! The author also includes plenty of illustrations, portraits and old sales receipts/slips from the auctions. It’s really a gem of a book and I’ve gotten lost for hours within its pages.
It’s hard to choose which royal jewelry book to buy, but this one really is a good choice. I’ve met many new royals (such as Draga) that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Besides being a book about jewelry, I’d say it’s also about world history. After all, the jewelry traveled through the centuries and witnessed plenty of upheaval and revolution.
“Worthwhile, both for the sumptuous jewelry and for the stunning lifestyle photographs.”
Society of Jewelry Historians
For many centuries, collecting precious jewels was the province of kings and queens, emperors, and maharajas. But in the aftermath of the First World War, royal gems passed into the hands of a different kind of elite that included celebrities and a coterie that reveled in a nouveau riche whirl. Changes in fashion and the rise of Art Deco style led them to reset pieces or commission exquisite contemporary designs.
Authors Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes explore this dazzling era via profiles of eleven glamorous women who built up astonishing jewelry collections in the mid-twentieth century. This revised and updated edition includes two new chapters that explore the lives and jewels of Ganna Walska and Hélene Rochas.
The authors reveal the remarkable stories behind the jewels and their collectors. Not only do they bring to life the worlds in which these women moved, but they also describe the gems in detail and chronicle the work of the leading jewelers of the day, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston. The book is illustrated with gorgeous close-up photography of the jewels as well as drawings of the original designs, and includes portraits of the collectors by Beaton, Horst, and other leading photographers of the time.
Another book I use for jewelry research is 20th Century Jewelry & the Icons of Style by Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes. This book does not solely focus on royals but that’s okay because royal jewelry tends to end up being sold, which results in women of all social strata purchasing and wearing it. This is why today’s book recommendation is another excellent one!
Each chapter in the book focuses on one particular woman, her jewelry and the history of her jewelry.
The women covered are:
Marjorie Merriweather Post
Lydia, Lady Deterding
The Duchess of Windsor
Countess Mona Bismarck
The Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda
HH The Begum Aga Khan III
As with the other books I featured this week, 20th Century Jewelry has scrumptious photographs, biographies, historic details galore and in-depth jewelry history to please any jewelry lover.
While I borrow most of my books from the library (they can be pricey), I have splurged on a number of jewelry tomes over the years. This week, I’ll share some of my favorite royal jewelry books from my personal library.
What can I say about this book except that I love it so very much! It has given me countless hours of entertainment. The book covers more than just tiaras; there is historical context behind the jewelry. There are plenty of royal biographies and the glossy photographs and countless illustrations will keep you happy for hours.
Geoffrey C. Munn, a leading expert in this topic, was granted access to important jewelry archives not usually available to the public, such as Cartier and Boucheron. And the chapters focus on a myriad of tiara topics such as Art Deco, Russian tiaras, European crown jewels and tiaras made as art. Plus so much more.
If you love royal jewelry, then this is a good book to get your hands on. However, it appears that this book is no longer in print. Sadly, sellers on Amazon are pricing it far too exorbitantly. I don’t believe in overpaying for anything. If you’re interested in this book, I suggest you check with your local bookshop or perhaps the local library.
Thank you for stopping by today. Stop by tomorrow for another book recommendation!
As you can probably tell, I love royal jewelry and royal history. And I feed my passion by reading as much as I can on these subjects. One of my favorite books on royal jewelry is Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court (2nd edition) by Stefano Papi. The book is not just about royal jewelry, it’s also a Romanov history of sorts.
I can’t rave enough about this book and have read every single word, more than once. Papi manages to tell a mesmerizing story with each jewel (this is the book where I first learned about the Vladimir Tiara and its fascinating origin story). This hefty tome is truly a treat. It’s not just an index of Romanov jewels and their whereabouts, but a history of the last Romanov family.
The coffee-table book is divided in six sections. Papi begins with the story of the last tsar and his tight-knit family, then introduces you to the various family relations. The book ends with the tragic downfall of the last tsar and the dispersal of the royal jewelry.
There are plenty of images to bring the stories to life: photographs of the family and their sumptuous jewels, image reproductions and drawings. Each jewel has its own story to tell and Papi tells it magnificently.
The only downside to this book? The cost. The list price is a hefty $75.00. However, last I checked Amazon had copies for approximately $60.00 or you may even be able to buy a less expensive used copy elsewhere. But don’t forget to check if your library has a copy for you to borrow. I still borrow many of my jewelry history books from the library.
If you are interested in the Romanovs and their jewelry, I highly recommend this book. If you’ve already read it, please let me know your thoughts.
For today, I thought I’d share a few royalty-related articles. For me, it’s always fun to talk about royal history. If you feel the same, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.
What remains of France’s aristocracy? – This short video by France 24 is super interesting and fun. It’s about France’s former aristocracy and their grand homes. There is also a tour of an aristocratic chateau and the France 24 journalist meets with an aristocratic family to talk about what it’s like to maintain a chateau.
Ten questions to ask about tiaras. – If you are ever in need of purchasing a tiara (how I wish this was a real problem for me), then read this insightful article by Christie’s.
Germany’s ex-royal family win legal case against historian. – Truly, I’m not sure how I feel about this case. The courts have sided with the Hohenzollern Family in their lawsuit against a historian. Perhaps I do not fully grasp the legal issue at play, but I’m worried that this ruling may lead to future historians and journalists being censored. What do you think?
A royal engagement. – Grand Duke George of Russia is engaged to be married. If you are interested to learn about his imperial Romanov lineage, read my post about it here.
Current royal read. – I’m currently reading Chère Annette: Letters from Russia 1820-1828. It’s a compilation of letters written by Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia to her daughter, Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna. She married the Prince of Orange and moved to the Netherlands. It’s a charming compilation of letters because it’s evident how much the Empress loved her daughter. Are you reading a royal history book?