A Round up of some of the best Jewelry Books of the Season

Admittedly gem and jewelry-obsessed (to put it mildly) I am also a bibliophile, so much so that an ex beau asked if my idea of home décor was bookshelves lining every wall. As I recall, his ‘wit’ extended to quips about the huge jewelry tomes that began taking over his side of the bed whenever a new one arrived. Possibly of the reasons he is now an ex.

I am also a firm believer that if you can’t purchase the piece of your dreams—buying or receiving a book of some of the world’s most covetable gems and jewels will pep you up—at least until you turn the last page.

Here is a round-up of October releases and a few previews of books which will hit stores over the next few months. Stay tuned—there will be more sparkling new reads as the holiday season progresses. I just might need another shelf.

(to see previous book reviews click here)

Courtesy of The Smithsonian Instituion

GEM, THE DEFINITIVE VISUAL GUIDE, (DK Publishing in collaboration with The Smithsonian) is the perfect gift to give yourself. With a forward by Aja Raden, The New York Time’s Bestselling author of Stoned, GEM was released in early October. From the jacket cover you might think it was another huge encylopedic book about the natural treasures of major gem types and the raw minerals from which they were formed. It is that—and so much more. The photos and range of gemological information provides for the most comprehensive and strikingly photographed books on the subject that I have seen.

From the book GEM

From the book GEM

But what struck me most about this huge gem of a book is the narrative component of famous gems, renowned and royal jewelry through the ages and the styles that were in vogue during each time period. There are also the many stories, myths, symbolism and quotes which offers the reader a glimpse of a world that embraces all that has to do with jewelry. This includes the raw minerals to the finished masterpieces—those owned by Marie-Antoinette and The Duchess of Windsor and those that crossed cultures including Indian and Egyptian styles. It’s an epic book for those of you interested in every facet of jewelry.



RINGS AROUND THE WORLD by Beatriz Chadour-Simpson and Sandra Hindman, with an introduction by renowned jewelry historian and ring scholar, Diana Scarisbrick was published in conjunction with Les Enluminures Gallery to accompany the exhibition and sale of the same name. It runs from Nov 18-Dec 3, 2016 in New York. The Paris and Chicago branches of the gallery will also have their own exhibitions.

I had the privilege of seeing at least five or six of the beautiful works or adornment featured in the book approximately one year ago. Since then, Rings Around The World has grown to include 45 rings in this  beautifully photographed 301 page catalogue, which provides a wealth of information for the student, scholar, historian, connoisseur and collector. It is published as part of a series of companion volumes to Les Enluminures various ring exhibitions.

Explains co-author Sandra Hindman, “Although the other books we published were more straightforward one reflected   a major private collection while others represented  specific times such as the Renaissance or Medieval periods, this book is not a straightforward history of rings around the world or through the ages.” She continues, “The rings we chose span across four millennia and widely diverse cultures, including those from Western Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Far East and the United States. Therefore, its focus is more geared to the interconnections between these rings and cultures, yet never losing sight of the importance of the moments of their creation.”


There are rings with  talismanic properties from the second millennium BC up to the 20th century. Many of the rings have a distinguished provenance such as Omar Pasha, a 19th century Ottoman general and Ernest Guilhou, one of the most significant ring collectors. of all time. Hindman also was pleased to meet Wallace Chan who helped bring her up to the present day..In her foreword she explains “ The book and exhibition displays connections that cross cultural, chronological and geographic boundaries.”

Courtesy Thames & Hudson


Olivier Dupon is the author of the coffee table book The New Jewelers (Thames & Hudson 2012) which showcased the inspiration and work of 108 emerging talents in fine and fashion jewelry. In his new book Fine Jewellery Couture: Contemporary Heirlooms, (Thames & Hudson, mid-October 2016), Dupon focuses on a curated selection of 35 international up-and-coming and established designers who create jewelry that blur the lines of what is fine and precious and have opened a visual conversation of the new creativity in fine and couture jewelry.

Autore “Flora Couture” necklace in 18K rose gold with rose-cut white diamonds, round brilliant-cut brown, light pink and white diamonds, green sapphires, and South Sea keshi loose pearls, Orchid collection. Courtesy of Autore

The designers chosen for this book push the boundaries of their imagination and experiment with a variety of materials yet always with attention to unparalleled craftsmanship, attention to detail and the type of jewels that are current and relevant and will be for the next generation. The book showcases sketches and high quality photos as well as quotes, biographies and inspirations of a group of some of the most creative designers influencing jewelry today. A short list of these include Aida Bergsen, Daniela Villegas, Fernando Jorge, Hanut Singh, Nam Cho, Nikos Koulis and Thomas Donocik. What is also so gratifying about this book is that each designer has a clearly defined aesthetic—chosen by Dupon’s uncanny eye for selecting some of the most riveting jewelers throughout the world today.

Photo ©TAFFIN: The Jewelry of James de Givenchy. Rizzoli New York

James Taffin de Givenchy shares the intimate and inspirational, the sophisticated yet unpretentious and the elegant yet whimsical influences that defines his creative world and body of work in his joyful new book, TAFFIN: THE JEWELS OF JAMES DE GIVENCHY (Rizzoli New York), which will be released in November 2016. This book provides readers with an extraordinary yet lighthearted glimpse of a master jeweler in a vivid homage to his experiences, references and his exuberant, colorful and sculptural creations.

The nephew of Hubert de Givenchy, he comes from a long lineage of creative talents.

The foreword was written by de Givenchy’s high school friend and is completely charming and engaging. A letter from his uncle is also part of the beginning of the book, and although written in French,  it  is endearing in that you understand the sentiment, even if not the language.

The book’s vibrant photographs are taken by James de Givenchy’s brother Philippe and sit alongside inspirational images, which showcase the jeweler’s colorful and unique vision.

After six years in the jewelry department at Christie’s, de Givenchy briefly worked at Verdura before striking out on his own in 1996.

His one-of-a-kind pieces are an interplay of the most striking and exotic of gemstones in bold colors and both precious and non-precious materials. The result of which are pieces that are as painstakingly crafted, as they are inventive, unexpected, ultra modern yet with an old world grasp on the glory of true and authentic design. Each time I turned the page; it made me smile as well as sigh with awe. This was one of those books that I didn’t want to put down and that I will go back to again and again.

An advance sneak peak of another jewelry book that you will want to own—the fantastical and larger than life The Golden Menagerie by renowned jewelry designer Temple St. Clair (Assouline,January 2016) which features St. Clair’s narrative process of building her Haute Couture collection through storytelling and the artistic expression of watercolor paintings and photography. Within this, her second book, St. Clair explores our relationship to animals through her own very distinctive style that celebrates various techniques and gemstones in the animals she chooses to bring to life. More on this book in December…

Photo Courtesy of Assouliine

One more for your library: Jewelry designer Monica Kosann has written a new book. Not only is Kosann a prolific designer but she is also a fine arts photographer. In A POSSESSION OBSESSION: WHAT WE CHERISH (released Oct 2016) Monica talks to celebrities that range from authors, style icons, fashion designers and a host of A-listers, whom she met as a portrait photographer. Through photos and interviews, they reveal their most cherished possessions to her and the meanings behind them. This list of people in the book include such luminaries in their fields as Usher, Bobbi Brown, Issac Mizrahi, Nina Garcia, Simon Doonan and Anna Quindlen. Although all the possessions are not jewelry—this is definitely worth a read for anyone who has a prized object to which they attach sentimentality, significance and memories from a momentous occasion in their life.

by Monica Rich Kosann