December is upon us and as you start planning out your jewellery wardrobe for the sparkle season, you might as well add the latest literary gems to your bookshelf, too. To put it simply, there are a ton of stunning books that are worthy of your attention in the coming months. And if you’re in the mood to flip through some exceptionally sparkly pages, you’ll want to kick things off with The Art of David Webb: Jewelry and Culture.
Written by jewellery historian Ruth Peltason, the monograph celebrates the career of its namesake designer, who first opened up his New York shop in 1948. In tracing the cultural and artistic inspirations behind Webb’s most iconic pieces, Peltason recalls the late designer’s deep appreciation for the craftsmanship of fine jewellery (he believed that jewellery should be treated as art and displayed in museums as such, a topic that Webb explored in his only published article to date, a 1963 piece in the New York Herald titled “Why Not Hang Gems?).
Now, Webb’s body of work is being exhibited in print, with more than 120 images of his finest creations captured by photographer Ilan Rubin just for this book. Pieces range from an elegant pair of diamond-encrusted earrings meant to mirror the cosmos to a ballet-inspired diamond lariat necklace. Of course, there’s no shortage of Webb’s signature nature-themed pieces. The cover of the book does feature a bracelet in the shape of a lion king, after all.
Additional standouts include playful earrings that feature diamond-embellished leopards, gold necklaces meant to resemble falling leaves, and glittering brooches in the shape of everything from a chrysanthemum flower to a coiled dragon. The pieces are, quite simply, works of art—and that makes The Art of David Webb a collectors’ item in its own right. To ensure that your bookshelves remain properly stacked, read on for 9 more of the best new jewellery books to order (or pre-order) right now.
Cartier Design: A Living Legacy
Earlier this year, over 160 precious Cartier pieces made their way to Mexico for the Cartier Design: A Living Legacy exhibition at the Museo Jumex. The selection of jewels served as a journey, of sorts, through the Maison’s 176-year history—and now you can almost get the full experience of the retrospective in the form of its official catalog. In tracing the evolution of Cartier through different generations—and looking towards an innovative future inspired by its heritage—art critic and curator Ana Elena Mallet reminds readers why the legacy of the luxury house remains one of a kind. And, naturally, the pages are dripping in diamonds.
The Nameplate: Jewelry, Culture, and Identity
Nameplate jewellery has been popular for decades—it was a key element of hip-hop fashion long before Carrie Bradshaw ever lost (and found) her “Carrie” necklace on the series finale of Sex and the City, after all. In The Nameplate, authors Marcel Rosa-Salas and Isabel Attyah Flower delve into the history and cultural significance of the highly personal jewellery staple through a series of essays, interviews, and, of course, celebrity portraits that depict the style in its many forms, from simple scripted pendants to flashier diamond-studded designs.
King of Diamonds: Harry Winston, the Definitive Biography of an American Icon
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can certainly judge one by its title. And King of Diamonds says it all. Published 65 years after famed jeweller Harry Winston donated the 45-carat Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution, his only living son, Ronald Winston, has penned a biography that offers an enlightening glimpse into the life of a man who once owned a third of the world’s most famous gems. Replete with stories about all of the business rivalries, red-carpet loans, and high-profile clients you could ask for, it’s as glamorous as nonfiction gets.
Francesca Amfitheatrof: Fantastical Jewels
Louis Vuitton fans, this one’s for you. A foreword by actress Cate Blanchett sets the stage for a deep dive into the work of Francesca Amfitheatrof, the fashion house’s first-ever Artistic Director of Jewellery and Watches (and former design director at Tiffany & Co.). Presented in a collage-filled scrapbook format, Francesca Amfitheatrof: Fantastical Jewels focuses on four of the designer’s collections in particular, documenting her storytelling process from first-take sketches to the incredible diamond creations that they become.
Bulgari: Beyond Time
From the unmistakable shape of the coveted coiled Serpenti to the revolutionary ultra-thin Octo, watch aficionados are well aware that Bulgari and horology have long gone hand-in-hand. The high jewellery house’s contributions to the watch world are recognized in Bulgari: Beyond Time, which explores the unbeatable marriage of Italian design and Swiss engineering that has established the luxury label as a giant within the timepiece realm. Essays and interviews with brand insiders and famous fans accompany photos of extraordinary gemstone-covered watches, and every single one of them must be seen to be believed.
Lydia Courteille: A Jeweller’s Odyssey
Whimsical, satirical, and just downright pretty, Lydia Courteille’s celebrity-loved designs are as unique as they come. The Parisian jeweller has been churning out fantastical, avant-garde pieces—think peacock rings, seahorse necklaces, and an entire collection inspired by Marie Antoinette—for over four decades now, and in Lydia Courteille: A Jeweller’s Odyssey, jewellery expert Juliet Weir-de La Rochefoucauld captures the true essence of her work. The colourful, eye-catching gemstones splashed across each page are a feast for the eyes, and in a poignant display, Courteille’s playful pieces are depicted alongside illustrations of the women who inspired them.
Enchanting Imagination: The Objets d’Art of André Chervin and Carvin French Jewelers
Published to coincide with the New-York Historical Society’s Opulent Imagination exhibition opening in September, this opulent catalog presents a unique collection of miniature treasures created by jeweller and Carvin French founder André Chervin. Embellished lamps, clocks, and ring boxes are among the featured objets d’art, some of which took up to 25 years to perfect and have never been shown to the public. But in Enchanting Imagination, edited by exhibit curator Debra Schmidt Bach, the rubies, diamonds, and sapphires of Chervin’s stone and mineral curiosities jump off the page, demanding the attention that they so deserve.
Yves Saint Laurent: Gold
A gilded read, Yves Saint Laurent: Gold traces the legendary designer’s use of his go-to metal across Baroque jewellery, sculptural accessories, and shimmering couture from the 1960s through the 2000s. The official catalog of the Gold, les ors d’Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris (curated by the museum’s director Elsa Janssen and fashion historian Yvane Jacob), it features splashy spreads of photos, illustrations, and archival documents along with quotes about the powerful nature of YSL’s jewellery from the likes of Paloma Picasso. All of the decadent images are worth pouring over, but it’s a photo of one iconic 1966 jewelled evening dress—which was inspired by Cleopatra and covered in gems—that really steals the show.
Pharrell: Carbon, Pressure & Time: A Book of Jewels
By now, Pharrell is as well known for his music as he is for his contributions to fashion. It’s been a decade and a half since his designs were first integrated into one of Louis Vuitton’s jewellry collections, and in Pharrell: Carbon, Pressure & Time: A Book of Jewels, he discusses the evolution of jewellery in hip-hop culture and his own custom design process in conversations with Tyler, the Creator, Lorraine Schwartz, Jacob & Co.’s Jacob Arabo, and more. He also shares over 100 of the blingiest pieces from his personal collection, and with a Casio G-Shock watch, KAWS pendant, and astronaut-inspired cuban link chain necklace among the many diamond-covered delights, the cool factor is, as expected, off the charts.