Marie-Hélène de Taillac: Gold and Gems

Image of Gold and Gems: The Jewels of Marie-Hélène de Taillac
Release Date: 
September 17, 2019
Reviewed by: 

Gold and Gems is a stand-alone monograph within the genre of fine or precious jewelry. The jewelry itself is far from the likes of either the fabled and legendary brands or certainly even further afield from the 21st century creators of haute joallier. The jewelry of Marie-Hélène de Taillac is lacking the impact and pizzazz of either of the two aforementioned categories; one might go so far as to say her jewelry is somewhat generic, derivative, and repetitive.

The presentation of the book is beautiful in its sleeve, but even the photography does not live up to the majority of books within the genre. The text by Eric Deroo and the foreword by Vanessa Friedman, while informative, can approach prosaic rather than just offering the origins and history of the brand and its designer. Those who offer additional text seem to basically repeat the same background and DNA of the brand as the others. If the truth be told, the text by Hamish Bowles provides more than enough information for any reader of this type of book.

All of the contributors strongly point out that de Taillac got her start by working at Butler and Wilson, the famed and innovative fashion jewelry brand from London. Yet the jewelry appears far more like fashion jewelry than fine jewelry, think bezel set Chanel crystals. De Taillac’s love of stones and her modus operandi of design rings truer to fashion jewelry than to any classification of fine jewelry. It’s not that there is no jewelry in this book that is worth seeing, but there is very little that stands out as noteworthy.

The designer’s mindset is that her jewelry is meant to be worn every day and not jewelry that is hidden away in a vault and brought out only on special occasions.

Gold and Gems is a book for those who might not be as broadly educated on the topic of fine jewelry. De Taillac’s reputation as a recognized and well-known international designer is disturbing at best. If the reader is just looking for a book of jewelry that might be considered minimal in design then here it is, but if the reader is in search of the drama and captivating design that is more prevalent these days then that prospective reader can just move right along.