Carnet by Michelle Ong

Image of Carnet by Michelle Ong
Release Date: 
November 9, 2018
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: 

It would be a lie to say that neither the brand name Carnet nor its designer Michelle Ong were familiar to this reviewer, but the name and brand that is familiar is Joel Rosenthal of JAR in Paris, who wrote the Foreword. Without question his name associated with any book of this genre was more than enough to pique interest as well as a signifier as to what is on the pages of this voluptuous and luxurious volume, Carnet by Michelle Ong.

Unquestionably the haute joallier created by Ms. Ong under the brand Carnet is more than just simply out of the ordinary—it is extraordinary in the extreme. So many jewelers of this particular facet, pun intended, of high jewelry tend to be more thematic rather than just about exquisite jewels. Ong creates a jewel that may follow in the footsteps of the great heritage brands in quality and workmanship, but that’s where it stops.

Admittedly she is addicted to earrings, which in itself is an admission that few jewelers ever state, but her brooches are beyond the pale and the necklaces are of the inconceivably beautiful and intricate variety. However, she doesn’t just stop there in terms of categories as she extends her oeuvre to include rings and timepieces as well; in fact there is one watch in particular that is truly a work of  art (the sapphire sea watch, page 83).

“Feminine sensuality is the key to the physical lightness of the jewels, but it is also Ong’s instinctive, spontaneous expression of timelessly modern femininity that gives her work its emotional power.”

The quality of the photography is on a par with any of the Cartier volumes and certainly shows off these gems to their utmost advantage. If there is a criticism to be made it would be that there is a difficulty in ascertaining the scale of these pieces, which is unfortunate but not critical. Ms. Becker’s text is a bit dry, but nevertheless it must be read to be informed about the how and why this jeweler thinks and operates when it comes to the designing mindset and following through to the finished product.

If you are in search another monograph containing pages of parures, diadems, and large gemstones classically set then Carnet is not for you. But if you are intrigued and fascinated by the infinite possibilities and the wild imaginings of what can be achieved within the world of haute joallier then this is a book you must own and read.