Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Love of Jewelry

I can't quite put into words why I love jewelry.  I love looking at the expensive pieces I could never afford.  I love shopping for the costume jewelry I can afford.  I even love the cheap plastic stuff for kids.  (Although it doesn't fit me, I still like to look at it.)  Much of the jewelry I own I don't see it as a status symbol, but as sentimental tokens, often given to me by close friends and family.  No matter what the cost, most of my pieces of jewelry mean a lot to me.

In many cultures, jewelry is a symbol of independence, history, and status.  In Egypt and China royal families were buried with their jewelry.  In ancient India a woman was allowed to own nothing except her jewelry, which was hers to keep.  The crown jewels have been passed down the royal family in England for hundreds of years as a way for them to trace their history.  During the French revolution the monarchy's jewels were taken, and several pieces were lost forever.   

Today revolutionaries don't run off with priceless jewels and women can own a lot more than jewelry, yet the importance of it has not faded.  It counts as many people's most treasured possesions.  It has become a way to pass on family history, to ensure that your ancestors will be remembered through their pieces of jewelry.  Jewelry is an heirloom that many people have a hard time parting with.  The loss of it is devastating, because with it goes the story behind it and the tangible memory of the people and events you associate with that piece. 

Hopefully, someone in your life will help give you happy memories with new jewelry this year.  If not, at least the library has plenty of beautiful books about jewelry, including ones with gorgeous pictures of jewels to lust over.

Books with beautiful pictures of jewelry:

Jewelry in America, 1600 - 1900 by Martha Gandy Fales
The Necklace: From Antiquity to the Present by Daniela Mascetti and Amanda Triossi
Jewels and Jewelry by Clare Phillips
Bejeweled: Great Designers, Celebrity Style by Penny Proddow and Marion Fasel
Louis Comfort Tiffany at Tiffany & Co. by John Loring
Traditional Jewelry of India by Oppi Untract
The Nature of Diamonds edited by George E. Harlow

Here in New Mexico we are very lucky to be surrounded by beautiful and unique Indian jewelry.  Walking through Old Town in Albuquerque, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the Palace of the Governers in Santa Fe, or any Indian pueblo during their feast days lets you gawk at more beautiful jewelry than you can imagine.  Here is a short list of books about southwestern jewelry:

Fine Indian Jewelry of the Southwest: The Millicent Rogers Museum Collection by Shelby J. Tisdale
Navajo Jewelry: A Legacy of Silver and Stone by Lois Essary Jacka
The Beauty of Hopi Jewelry by Theda Bassman
Indian Jewelry of the American Southwest by William A. Turnbaugh and Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh
Silver and Stone: Profiles of American Indian Jewelers by Mark Bahti

There are lots of interesting books about jewelry and gemstones.  Here is a list of some that are carried here at the library:

Jewels: A Secret History by Victoria Finlay
Gems: The World's Greatest Treasures and Their Stories by Bernhard Graf
Collecting Gems and Minerals: Hold the Treasures of the Earth in the Palm of Your Hand by Chris Pellant
Gemstones of the World by Walter Schumann
Rock and Gem by Ronald Louis Bonewitz
The Jeweler's Directory of Gemstones: A Complete Guide to Appraising and Using Precious Stones From Cut and Color to Shape and Settings by Judith Crowe
New Mexico Rocks and Minerals: The Collecting Guide (Including Maps) by Frank S. Kimbler and Robert J. Narsavage, Jr.

Books about the secrets of gems, and the lengths people will go obtain them:

The Great Pearl Heist: London't Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuble Necklace by Molly Caldwell Crosby
The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire by Tom Zoellner
Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones by Greg Campbell
Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief by Bill Mason with Lee Gruenfeld

If that isn't enough to whet your appetite for jewels of all kinds, here are a few jewelry websites, recommended to me by a good friend who loves beautiful jewelry. 

A beautiful website, featuring Santa Fe jewelers and their work.  You may be inspired to visit the store on West San Francisco Street, in downtown Santa Fe.

This site shows some of the most beautiful vintage and antique jewelry on the market today.  There are pages and pages of jewelry from all styles of art.

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