Jewels That Made History: 101 Stones, Myths, and Legends

Image of Jewels That Made History: 101 Stones, Myths, and Legends
Release Date: 
October 13, 2020
Reviewed by: 

Brace yourself, because if you, as the prospective reader, are waiting for another mega-sized coffee table monograph then you will be disappointed. The fact is that what Jewels That Made History: 101 Stones, Myths, and Legends lacks in physical size it makes up for with astounding impact and incredible text that accompanies each image.

Volandes has created this wonderful history by writing in such a way that it all comes off as very conversational and not in the least bit dry or pedantic. Jewels That Made History offers the reader a very concise, intimate, up-close and personal curation of these historically distinctive and incredibly lush stones, tiaras, pins, necklaces, and various other incarnations of fine jewelry that have long since been forgotten.

This is a book that demands to be read rather than flipped through to see the “pretty pictures.” There is so much that this reader hadn’t been aware of and was thrilled to be able to more deeply explore within the subject matter. Any reader who is well versed on jewelry of this nature knows that each piece or stone has its own genealogy, which can be endlessly fascinating. Given that some of the original creations that we read about might have been reconfigured or utilized as means of payment or gifted per the social protocols of the times, their journeys are ripe for storytelling.

The book is indeed a chronology of jewelry that not only includes the jewels and stones, but also speaks to the ownership of it all. Some pieces maybe have gone missing over the years, some may be part of the national treasury of a given country, some in museums, some sold off to survive, but most importantly Volandes speaks of the wildly extravagant, voracious, generous, stylish, and famous women who bought or were gifted with many of these pieces.

Another refreshing aspect of the book is that the author does not write only of the heritage brands or the royals who inherited the pieces but also about some of the designers, brands, and owners who are frequently overlooked. This kind of acknowledgement is what make Jewels That Made History a book that must be read and owned by those who fancy themselves connoisseurs of haute joaillerie and the topic of jewelry in general.