From the simple shell beads worn by Palaeolithic hunters to the splendour of Renaissance goldwork and the sumptuousness of Art Nouveau enamels, here is a guide to the evolution of Western jewelry, concluding with the radical and experimental developments of the last three decades.
Offering a survey of the entire field, the book is organized into chronological sections starting with the ancient world and progressing through the Middle Ages and the Baroque to the Belle Epoque and Art Deco eras, finally reaching the present day.
The author, Clare Phillips, analyzes jewelry's changing fashions, explores its social context, and examines how it has been worn by both men and women.
She shows how jewellers have responded to new sources of gems, whether emeralds from the New World or diamonds from South Africa, and to the discovery of metals such as platinum and aluminium.
Masterworks by unknown craftsmen and pieces designed by individual artists such as Holbein, Pugin and Calder, are illustrated alongside the glittering products of the major jewelry houses - Cartier, Fouquet and Faberge among others.