Jewellery books

Mar 4, 2024

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a number of books to read. Winter and the desire to not go outside have helped me put together a huge reading list, especially as I’ve signed up to a reading chain, adding books from all over the world. It was a great experience that I’ll have to repeat. Among the many books to discover, I chose four that I really enjoyed, enabling me to learn and enrich my knowledge of jewellery. I’m convinced that we learn throughout our lives. So I’d like to suggest these books (affiliate links), which I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do!

1-“Jakob Bengel, Oberstein: From Art Industry to Jewellery Design” – Arnoldsche – From 36 euros

In Germany, jewellery is traditionally made in Pforzheim or Hanau, which was once a veritable nerve centre for German jewellery. Idar-Oberstein is rightly seen as the town of stone cutters, and historically so. However, there have been some major manufacturers based in this pretty little town close to the French border.

Such is the case of Jakob Bengel, whose chain factory was founded in 1873 and initially worked for the watchmaking industry. In the 1920s, he introduced Galalith (a phenolic resin made from milk casein) and combined it with chromed metal to produce jewellery in the Art Deco and Bauhaus styles. The Second World War did not help, and his company was requisitioned for the war effort in 1939 and then forgotten. However, in what was once her son-in-law’s house, a treasure trove remained: unsold jewellery, sketchbooks, order books and tools.

In 2001, Christel Braun, the owner of the house and the brand, and above all Jakob Bengel’s great-granddaughter, set up a foundation and a museum. The book takes you on a journey of discovery through a forgotten industrial history and a place that is a must-see. And while you’re waiting to go to Germany, the book will allow you to discover the magnificent jewels of this house and immerse yourself in its history.

2-“The Tiffany & Co. Archives, photographed by Henry Leutwyler” – Steidl – From 85 euros

This book, published at the end of 2023, offers a panorama of the pieces conserved in the Tiffany & Co. archives. Don’t look for text, there is virtually none, and this is certainly the main drawback of this book. Nevertheless, despite the lack of context for the pieces, this coffee table book provides a wealth of archives from the most famous jewellery house in the United States. These are perfectly photographed by Henry Leutwyler

“The Tiffany Archives” is a beautiful book in the true sense of the word, to be leafed through when you have the time. It is not an academic book, but the descriptions of the pieces are perfectly done and will enable you to learn more about the materials and styles of the house over the ages. It’s a book for jewellery lovers rather than neophytes.

3-“Dead Souls: Desire and Memory in the Jewelry of Keith Lewis” – Arnoldsche – From 38 euros

You’re getting to know me pretty well if you’re a regular visitor to these parts, and you’ve probably guessed that I’m a joy to be around since I’ve been frantically reading and re-reading the monograph written jointly by Damian Skinner and Keith Lewis about the latter’s work. But do you know exactly who he is?

Keith Lewis is a renowned contemporary American jeweller who lives in Washington State. Teaching for over thirty years at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, he has trained generations of students in metalwork and jewellery. His work explores queer identity and commemorates his friends who died of AIDS. His erotic necklaces and brooches, inspired by the suggestive frescoes of Pompeii, have made him famous. He trained as a jeweller at Kent State University, graduating in jewellery in 1993.

He has been included in countless national and international exhibitions, including Schmuck 2012-2021, organised by Die Neue Sammlung, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; SCHMUCK 2020, IHM, Munich; Beijing International Jewellery Art Exhibition, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, Zhongguancun Fashion Industry Innovation Park (BIFT PARK) (2017) or Tag, c’est toi! a national touring exhibition organised by Kiff Slemmons and co-sponsored by Gallery Loupe and The Jewelry Library (2020-2022).

Lewis’s work can be found in numerous private and public collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where a brooch is in the permanent collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Renwick Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tacoma Museum of Art and Die Neue Sammlung, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany. A must-have book!

4-“Au commencement était le trait, Cartier dessins Art Déco 1910-1930” (In the beginning was the line, Cartier Art Deco drawings 1910-1930) – IAJA – 115 euros

Olivier Bachet has done it again, and this is certainly one of the best new jewellery books we could have received. After making us dream with Alain Cartier with their remarkable and acclaimed monograph dedicated to the objects from Cartier, Olivier Bachet has now produced a magnificent book highlighting one of the specialities of jewellery and of the House: drawing.

For several years now, the enthusiasm for this stage in the creation of a piece of jewellery has been firmly established. Recurring exhibitions at La Piscine, the Salon du Dessin and the École des Arts Joailliers have enabled a broad public to take a closer look at this art form. And for those who don’t know, there are also collectors of jewellery drawings, like Frank Stefan Stern, whose interview you can read about here.

Olivier Bachet does not disappoint us with this 370-page book, packed with illustrations, each more beautiful than the last. But you can’t just admire a book, you have to read it. Here you can discover the story of Maurice Rauline, the pope of the garland style, Charles Jacqeau, who joined the company in 1909, and Gaston Vignal, Alexandre Diringer and Alexandre Grenaille. All of these names are inextricably linked and have, behind the scenes, made the creations of the house with the famous red and gold boxes a success.

I swear that you will not be disappointed by this book, and I can even tell you that it is a reference for anyone who loves the creations of the House of Cartier and who admires the dexterity and imagination of its jewellery designers. Run out and get it, you won’t regret it!

See you soon!


marie chabrol

Hello my name Is Marie. Speaker, consultant & teacher, I write with passion about the world of jewelry.

my ideal library

This is my ideal library. All these books are part of my own library and I always read them with great pleasure.