Image of Gems
Release Date: 
September 1, 2020
Reviewed by: 

Gems is a journey through time for those who possess a neverending curiosity not just about the finished product, jewelry, but how each creative expression came to be from the time the raw material was found. The prospective reader can look forward to a crash course in geology and mineralogy as well as the craftsmanship of Van Cleef & Arpels.

This is no easy read but it is something that few, if any other titles, within this genre dare to explore with this kind of depth and detail. Yes, Gems is a catalogue that accompanies a show at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris but that’s not its only raison d’etre and not the sole reason for its content.

“Today, our Maison is proud to share the ongoing dialogue between minerology and jewelry with the general public. This exhibition, bringing together the Museum’s scientific rigor and precision and the magical designs of Van Cleef & Arpels, is a bridge between these two worlds.” —Nicolas Bos (President & CEO VC&A)

Quite honestly this is not a book that is aimed at those with only a passing love or fascination with the jewels of Van Cleef as the text is extremely factual and therefore requires an extremely educated reader who wants to learn as well as  appreciate the fine art of haute joallerie.

“Throughout history, the earth has produced a multitude of different gemstones that have been sought after and coveted by humankind. Modern science is seeking to gain a better understanding of the geological origins of this complex geodiversity, while jewelers are reinterpreting this knowledge through their poetical inspiration.”

This is most definitely not a book for everyone as it requires patience and a thirst for knowledge as well as a somewhat scientific mind to digest its contents. Yes, the imagery of the VC&A jewelry is spectacular in its own right, but the thrust of the book is really all about how that product came about from its formation on the the earth’s surface until it becomes that extreme expression of quintessential quality and craftsmanship.