Just published | David and Daniela's new work - Understanding Jewellery: the 20th century

Understanding Jewellery was first published in 1989, it was revised in 2003 and a decade added to bring it up to the year 2000. At the time David and Daniela felt they were too close to the jewels produced in the second half of the 20th century for a full and objective appraisal of the era, and so decided to postpone a more detailed work on the subject. Then, at the beginning of 2020, they decided to pick up the thread again: the pandemic contributed to speeding up the writing process and paved the way for them to work together in a new way, principally using Zoom.

A smoky quartz, yellow sapphire and citrine brooch, Suzanne Belperron, Paris, circa 1935. Famously Belperron did not sign her jewels believing that her style was her signature.

In describing the foundations of Understanding Jewellery: the 20th century, David and Daniela say they wanted to ensure that the evolution of jewellery style over the century was well documented through their selection of images. Importantly, they didn’t just want to show exceptional and glamorous examples,  (Celebrating Jewellery in 2012 had met this brief) but also to include more modest but typical pieces, which formed part of the mainstream jewels of the Age.

A platinum and diamond clip, Raymond Templier, Paris, circa 1930.

A stylisation of the yin yang figure, the design exploits the contrast between the plain polished metal surface and the play of light afforded by the pavé-set diamonds.

This new work features over 500 images, the majority of which have not appeared before in works by David and Daniela. Importantly, as with their other books,  every single jewel featured in this new work has been handled and inspected by them, a pre-requisite for all their commentaries.  David and Daniela also note that influential makers such as Suzanne Belperron and René Boivin were barely mentioned in the 1989 edition of Understanding Jewellery – at the time the designers were not well known and their pieces were rarely seen at auction, but three decades later it’s a different story.

A gold, tiger’s-eye and diamond pendant, Bulgari, 1970s.

The abstract design of this example reflects the Op Art of the 1960s which had been popularised through dress fashion and fabric patterns.

The inevitable question is what’s next for the co-authors? The answer will not surprise readers as they are currently working on Understanding Jewellery: the 19th century which is scheduled to be published before Christmas next year.

Browse reviews of Understanding Jewellery: the 20th century

MJ Rose, The Adventurine

Beth Bernstein, Forbes.com

Victoria Gomelsky, JCK online

Elisa Vallata, Departures International

To purchase Understanding Jewellery: the 20th century visit: here