19 March 2013

My Favorite Jewelry Books

I obviously have an obsession with jewelry. As such, I do try to buy really good jewelry books when I have the money. These types of books are normally very expensive, but the quality is so amazing, they far surpass any images found on the internet. I have looked through dozens of jewelry books, either at libraries or bookstores, and I am quite proud of the small, but high-quality collection that I own.

These are the favorite jewelry books that I own:

The Queen's Diamonds, by Hugh Roberts. Has a list price of $95 but I got it for the discounted price of $67.49, available at Amazon. I just recently purchased this, and let me tell you, it has huge, amazing high resolution images of most of Queen Elizabeth II's important jewels, as well as their respective original owners wearing the jewels. The book is separated into sections from the jewels that Queen Victoria added to the collection, all the way through Elizabeth II. 

My Love Affair with Jewelry, by Elizabeth Taylor. I bought this book over ten years ago, and it seems no one wanted it at the time, as I got it on sale for only $10 new. Since the death of Taylor, the value of this book has skyrocketed, with Amazon.com selling the book for upwards of $200.  This book has amazing photos along with Taylor's own stories about how she acquired these jewels.

Faberge: Imperial Craftsman and his World, by Dr. Geza von Hapsburg. Hapsburg has written numerous books on Faberge, but this is one of the better ones I've seen. I purchased this one for about $20 new, but it's normal list price was about $60. There are nice photos of sketches by the Faberge firm for tiaras, necklaces, and other jewels that were made for the Russian imperial family. This book includes Faberge silvers, enamels, picture frames, and some eggs. The bits of jewelry that are included are quite beautiful, as was everything the Russian firm made.

The Queen's Jewels, by Leslie Field. I bought this new for about $10 ten years ago. Most of the photos are black and white, but still of high resolution. One of the best parts about this book are all the stories about the royal personages that owned the jewels. One anecdote talks about how Queen Alexandra delayed the opening of parliament until all the faux pearl beads from one of her broken necklaces were picked off of the ground.

Tiaras: Past and Present, by Geoffrey Munn. This is my favorite tiara book (except for Munn's other tiara book, which is oversized and contains many more photos, which I do not own). The photos are high resolution, full color. Definitely worth buying if you love pictures of tiaras. I bought this new for about $25.

Jewelry: Ancient to Modern, by Walters Art Gallery. I found this book at a yardsale for $2. Its one great downside is that because it is from 1979, when color printing was expensive, most of the images are grasyscale. There is a large selection of jewels from the past 2000 or so years. It has been a great inspiration for me when making my own jewels.

Tiara, by Diana Scarisbrick. This book contains many full-color images of tiaras, but the downside is that some of them are very small or not high resolution. The designer also did this strange thing where all the tiaras are cut out of whatever background they were originally on. It is incredibly obvious, and not very well done. Having said all that, if you find this book for a good price (I would say less than $30), it does contain a treasure trove of images. I bought this new for about $35.

Paulding Farnham: Tiffany's Lost Genius. This contains the best photos of Tiffany's best jewels. I really don't like most books on the Tiffany firm, but this one heavily focuses on tiaras, brooches, and necklaces rather than stained glass or silver. I actually first saw this book in a Tiffany & Co. shop! I bought this used for about $20.

Jewelry, by HART Picture Archives. The best part about this book is that all the illustrations are public domain, meaning you can make art out of these and actually sell it without any fear of copyright infringement. These types of books were really popular in the days before computers and software(mostly Adobe Photoshop) took over. There is only a tiny section on tiaras, but the other images are just as lovely. I paid about $5 for this at a secondhand book shop.