If you, like us, love jewelry and all things sparkly, or you know someone who does there are some excellent books on jewelry that will keep you quiet for hours and hours.
We’ve read quite a few and thought, particularly with the holiday season coming up, we’d list what we think are the best books on jewelry.
Best Books About Jewelry
The Power of Love: Jewels, Romance and Eternity
With stunning images this book is suitable even for those who aren’t well versed in jewelry techniques or terminology. It covers jewelry from antiquity to modern day pieces, such as those worn by Lady Gaga, describing how jewelry has been inspired by love throughout the ages with wonderful illustrations along the way. Great for inspiration.
The Smithsonian National Gem Collection – Unearthed: Surprising Stories Behind the Gems
Jeffrey Edward Post
For those who are lucky enough to have been to the Smithsonian Hall of Gems this will be a fascinating “re-visit” and deepen your understanding of what you saw. For those of us that haven’t, this book may be the next best thing to visiting. It features, with gorgeous photography, some of the pieces on display in the Museum of Natural History Museum in Washing DC and the stories behind them.
It is absolutely divine. If, like me, you love stories and people and especially people’s stories then this book should tick all the boxes. From the Napolean Diamond Necklace to the stories behind some of the most famous gems in history that are on display in the museum, this is a wonderful book.
Jewel: A Celebration of Earth’s Treasures
(DK) Judith Miller
A beautiful, coffee-table book which any jewelry lover will be pleased to have in their collection. You will learn something new on every page you open and the images are stunning, despite the rather lack-luster cover. It also gives you lots of information on the properties of gemstones.
Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession and How Desire Shaped the World
A fascinating look at some gemstones and their history at the hands of us humans. It examines how we have desired jewelry, the marketing ploys to “ensure” something becomes more valuable, and how history is made around our drive to acquire luxury. The book is divided into three parts – “Want” – the nature of desire and the value of something coveted; “Take” – when people want what they can’t have or acquire and what they are prepared to do to get it; and “Have” – which is about how things are created from what we’d love to have.
There’s a good section on diamonds and pearls too, as well as Faberge eggs and some detailed history on some people that influenced or owned pieces of jewelry. This book is well-researched and one of the best books about jewelry and human behaviour around it. A fabulously enjoyable read, this book will make a perfect gift for someone.
Vogue The Jewellery
Another coffee table book. With wonderful lifestyle photography, as you’d expect from Vogue, this is a great jewelry-lovers book for those who love fashion and images of jewelry from editions of Vogue over the years. Of course, it’s fairly modern compared to the history of some of the other books we’ve listed and more of a feast for the eyes but fascinating all the same.
(DK) Cally Hall
Hugely informative and educational for those who love gemstones, or want to learn about them. Whilst quite a concise book it packs a lot in. This is another recommended book on some jewelry training courses.
Secrets of the Gemtrade: The Connoiseur’s Guide to Precious Gemstones
Richard W Wise
For the person who has more than a passing interest in gemstones and likes buying them, this is a bit of an eye-opener in what to look for. With some lovely photographs this is a great reference book and a hugely fascinating read.
Hidden Gems: Stories from the Salesroom
I disappeared off he radar when I first got this book! It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a jewelry auction house and the amazing stories behind the pieces, and the people, that own the pieces being appraised. Full of true stories, it allows us a peek into the lives of those that have loved jewery pieces, those that have lost them, those that have commissioned them, and reflects historical times of the day. At fabulous read!
Written by a gemmologist and jewellery historian Sarah Hue-Williams and Raymond Europena Director of Christie’s Jewellery auction house.
Christie’s Guide to Jewelry
Author of my previous recommended book which was more on the fascinating stories about a gems history and the owners of it, this book is more of a guide to jewelry and gemstones – what to look for, etc. This is a superb educational book. In my opinion its one of the best books about jewelry and gemstones and it’s an an important book in my collection
Jewels and Jewellery: Victoria and Albert Museum
From medieval pieces through to the 21st-Century, this book looks at the rare and the precious as well as illustrating some jewelry making techniques that came along through the times. It looks at materials used as they were discovered and craftsmen became more expert at crafting them, and the designs influenced by fashions of the periods. It also has a great glossary at the back of the book.
This is a informative, educational resource on diamonds that is easy to read and not too heavy or hard-going. Recommended by the National Association of Goldsmiths as part of their jewelry training courses, this is both interesting and highly informative. For those who are interested in the colours of diamonds you will find a wealth of information. The different cuts are described and illustrated very well also.
Diamond Jewelry: 700 Years of Glory and Glamour
For those who love sparkling diamonds this is a fascinating look at some of the royalty, celebrities and nobility who have owned and commissioned them. Diamonds are hugely symbolic and this looks as the pieces and people who wore them throughout history and the reflection in the pieces of the different styles of the period. Another interesting read.
7000 Years of Jewelry
This book covers jewelry history from all over the world throughout the ages, with some fabulous illustrations. A great book for those with more than a passing interest in jewelry.
Rings hold this fascination to many women and it’s a little sad that we only have ten fingers to wear them on! There are SO many beautiful rings out there. This interesting book is a look at the history of rings, their evolution and a look at the detail that went into rings through the ages. It is illustrated with some wonderful images from the collection in the V&A museum.
Brooches & Badges: Accessories Series The Victoria and Albert Museum
A much-neglected but fascinating area of jewelry – brooches (or pins) and badges. Some are truly works of art and they were hugely popular throughout history, now enjoying a comeback and, I hope, will gain in popularity. They are a hugely versatile item of jewelry. This is a fascinating look at the history of the brooch with some marvellous examples from the V&A museum.
Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box
It was always debated in the press on the late Queen Elizabeth’s “hidden messages” in the choice of brooch that she wore to meet certain dignitaries or appearances she made. Of course, this was never verified, but much was made of it all the same.
In a similar way, Madeleine Albright talks about her choice of pin became part of her “personal diplomatic arsenal”. In this book she talks about her jewelry collection, the ocassions she wore each piece and what they meant to her. A fascinating book which I enjoyed reading.
Ice-Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry History
This is a bit of an outlier but a good book about jewelry that we felt worthy of a place in our best books about jewelry list. Something a little different from diamonds, birthstones and fine jewelry, this book looks at the evolution of jewelry in the hip-hop scene and its over-sized chains and pendants loved and worn by so many modern celebrities, musicians and rappers.
Jewelry formed a massive part of the hip-hop scene and this book examines that. It’s a fascinating book, a great coffee-table book, and a superb gift for a man who loves jewelry.
To Sum Up
Jewelry is the cornerstone of the whims and fashions of every age and, as such, much can be talked about in jewelry trends, designs and craftmanship as well as the materials used. There are so many wonderful books out there, we hope you’ve enjoyed what have made our list of best books about jewelry.
If there is a book you think we should take a look at that could be added to this list, please do let us know in the comments below. Or if you’ve read any one here and have some views on it, good or bad, we’d love to hear.