It’s 17th January already and I’ve hardly had time to think let alone write since the new year began. The day job has gone crazy and Christmas seems ages ago. Fortunately, the dust has settled for the moment so that I can, at last, get back to the Jewel Box.
I was lucky enough to tick three jewellery books off my Christmas Wish List so I’m going to review one of them here: Miller’s Costume Jewellery.
Since I inherited my Marcel Boucher necklace and clip earrings, I have wanted to learn more about costume jewellery and this book has proved a great place to start. Published in June 2012 in hardback, it measures a neat 21.5cm wide x 25cm deep so fits handily onto a bookshelf. I would describe this as a reference book rather than a coffee table book because, as well as containing many beautiful colour photographs, its 256 pages are packed full of fascinating information including tips on how to identify the different styles of jewellery and approximate values for every item of jewellery featured. I feel as though I’ve acquired a good grounding in the subject in the short time that I have owned the book. It’s the type of book that you can easily dip in and out of which is handy if, like me, you are short on time but want to develop your knowledge over a period of time.
The author, Judith Miller, has been collecting antiques for nearly 50 years and is a world expert in this field. She co-founded Miller’s Antiques Price Guide in 1979, lectures and writes extensively and appears as one of the experts on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. She clearly knows her stuff.
The book is split into 5 easy to follow sections, all beautifully illustrated with colour photos:
The Introduction explains the Origins of Costume Jewellery and takes the reader from ancient times to the 21st century, describing the different styles and fashions.
Next comes a section on Classic Designers – 57 of them! There are features on Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfield, Vivienne Westwood, and, surprisingly, Avon (Ding Dong!) who first began selling jewellery in 1971 and who, by 1975, had become the largest manufacturer of jewellery in the world. Who would have thought it!
There then follows a selection of Gallery photos including, amongst other things, Austrian jewellery, plastic jewellery, Czech jewellery and Jelly Bellies. It’s not completely obvious to me why some of the styles have been singled out for attention (e.g. are they currently popular? It’s not obvious) but the photos are beautiful and the accompanying commentary is detailed and interesting.
The book closes with a look at 14 Future Designers, presumably selected by the author as the ‘ones to watch’ although, again, it’s not totally obvious. As I’m still new to costume jewellery and would not yet call myself a collector, none of the names mentioned mean anything to me. That may change, though …
Overall, I’m delighted with this book. I bought it on the basis of the reviews I read on Amazon and it has more than lived up to expectations. I definitely want to start collecting costume jewellery but, as the book demonstrates, there are an awful lot of beautiful (and affordable) pieces to choose from. Hmmmn, where to begin? I’ll let you know when I make up my mind.