The Magpie's Jewel Box

A treasure trove of sparkly bits and pieces


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Must-see jewellery at the V&A Museum

I first stumbled across the amazing jewellery collection at the V&A a couple of years ago and could not believe my eyes. I had never seen so much fantastic jewellery all in one place. If you love jewellery and are in London go and check out The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery (Rooms 91-93) at the Museum which displays around 3500 items of jewellery from the V&A’s collection.

The collection has a mainly European focus and includes everything from rings to tiaras and features examples from Ancient Greece to the present day, including several pieces with royal connections. You can see the work of famous jewellers such as Cartier, Lalique and Faberge as well as examples by 140 contemporary designers. Personally, I prefer the older pieces for their historical associations and, in many cases, their total over-the-topness!

The Museum is free to visit. Opening times are 10.00 to 17.45 daily and 10.00 to 22.00 Friday. I recommend getting there early because the jewellery gallery is very popular, is not particularly spacious and gets very crowded. Give yourself plenty of time to view the exhibits – they are stunning and deserve a good look! And don’t miss the beautiful gemstone ‘wheel’ near the gallery entrance – it includes examples of just about every gemstone you can think of and it’s worth visiting just to see that.

Finally, before you leave, take a look at the V&A shop where you can buy costume and designer jewellery.  Enjoy!

Photo by: Steve and Sara 

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Jewellery books are top of the Magpie’s Christmas wish list

If Santa plans to stop by my house, could he please deliver the following books which appear on my Christmas wish list and are all available from Amazon:

7000 years of Jewellery by Hugh Tait. This books draws mainly on the collections held by The British Museum (hardly surprising, really, as the Museum published the book!). It is a broad illustrated history which looks at the different styles, techniques and materials used to make jewellery around the world.

Miller’s Costume Jewellery by Judith Miller.  This book provides an introduction to costume jewllery, starting in Ancient Egypt and exploring everything from Art Deco and Hollywood jewellery to the lives of key designers, their designs and makers marks.  The author is an expert on jewellery, founded the best-selling Miller’s Antiques Price Guide and has written over 100 books. She is also one of the experts appearing on the BBC’s ‘Antiques Roadshow‘ and presented the BBC TV series ‘The House Detectives’ and ITV1’s ‘Antiques Trail’.

Vintage Jewellery by Caroline Cox.  This book covers 100 years of jewellery history, from Lalique’s Art Nouveau enamelling and Cartier’s gemstones to Christian Dior’s costume jewellery and Harry Winston‘s diamonds. It sounds like a visual delight and a valuable source of information about the leading designers and jewellery houses. Caroline Cox is a visiting professor at the London School of Fashion and a leading fashion authority.

Jeweller’s Directory to Gemstones: A Complete Guide to Appraising and Using Precious Stones from Cut and Colour to Shape and Setting (bit of a mouthful, that one!) by Judith Crowe.

This book provides a full description of each gemstone and how it can be used in jewellery, a history of the cuts and useful information about identifying, buying and caring for the gems.  Sounds ideal for jewellery makers.

If I am lucky enough to receive all of the above, I will review each book in future posts. In the meantime, I will try to be good so that Santa pays a visit …


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Cartier Winter Tale

Here is a great Christmas film called Winter Tale from the French jeweller and watchmaker, Cartier.  I like the fact that you can click on each item featured to stop the film and find out more. This will particularly appeal to all you (big) cat lovers. Enjoy!

Photo: Derk Stenvers