Stumped for a Holiday Gift? Here Are Some of the Year’s Best Jewelry Books

Literary gems: Check out these five dazzling publications, perfect for presenting to your loved ones this season.

December 5, 2023  |  Livia Primo Lack

The holiday season has arrived, and for many of us, the cheer, bells and ribbons mean it’s time to start thinking about present-buying. For the jewelry lovers on your list, why not consider tickling their intellectual fancy with a beautifully illustrated coffee table book that’s all about jewels?

These five publications are guaranteed to delight any jewelry aficionado and educate those of us who love to learn. Full of historic tales alongside dazzling drawings and illuminating product details, these books are a feast for the eyes and create quite a lavish library.

Cartier: The Impossible Collection

One of the world’s premier luxury jewelers since the 19th century, Cartier has stunned high-jewelry and watch lovers with its revolutionary designs and unparalleled opulence. This year, the maison has released a coffee table book that allows Cartier admirers to peek behind the curtain at 100 of the brand’s most innovative and iconic objects.

From the birth of the Panthère motif to the distinctive tutti frutti design, the book breaks down the most swoon-worthy Cartier creations with beautiful illustrations and engaging text. As the first international jeweler of its time, Cartier has spread its revolutionary yet timeless style across all its luxury products. This handcrafted volume by jewelry journalist Hervé Dewintre is the perfect gift for those dedicated Cartier fans looking to learn the highlights of the house’s creative history. (Published by Assouline.)

Cartier citrine and diamond
tiara, 1937. (Vincent Wulveryck/Collection Cartier)

Dolce & Gabbana Alta Gioielleria: Masterpieces of High Jewellery

Relatively new to the high-jewelry scene, fashion icons Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are celebrating Dolce & Gabbana Alta Gioielleria, the Italian brand’s take on the high-jewelry genre.

Full of opulent designs and one-of-a-kind pieces, the book shows how the two talented designers have used this luxury line to celebrate Italian artistry. Through each collection, they rediscover forms of historical Italian craftsmanship, honor masterful works by famous Italian painters, and recreate the country’s diverse natural landscape, from the top to the tip of the boot.

Each jewel is a platform for telling stories of ancient times and sharing Italian culture and folklore through the most precious of materials. Think Sophia Loren, carved coral roses, and micromosaics from the 19th century all packaged into a wearable work of art. Jewelry historian, journalist and writer Carol Woolton, who edited the book, calls Alta Gioielleria “a new storied style of jewelry.” (Published by Rizzoli.)

Earrings with colored gemstones, diamonds and pearls.
(Massimo Bianchi)

Lydia Courteille: A Jeweller’s Odyssey

This biography profiles one of the great French jewelers of our time: Lydia Courteille, whose shop and “cabinet of curiosities” are just a stone’s throw away from the historic Place Vendôme in Paris, the epicenter of high-jewelry craftsmanship.

Author Juliet Weir-de La Rochefoucauld explores Courteille’s lifelong passion for jewelry-making and collecting. Her signature aesthetic of antique-meets-vintage-meets-contemporary takes center stage as the book brings the reader behind the scenes of Courteille’s most lavish collections, revealing her inspirations and design processes.

Courteille’s love of famous historic women like Queen Marie Antoinette, fascination with lesser-known cultures such as the nomadic community of Assekrem, and appreciation for the vibrant colors of South America are but a few of the highlights in this work of art. (Published by ACC Art Books.)

Illustration for the Marie Antoinette collection.
(Natalie Shau)

Pharrell: Carbon, Pressure & Time: A Book of Jewels

Rapper, clothing brand owner, mentor and now jewelry designer Pharrell Williams has produced a book on high jewelry that describes in detail his love of this luxury art form.

The volume comprises a collection of conversations between himself and other big names like jeweler Lorraine Schwartz and rapper Tyler, the Creator. In these pages, Williams shares his approach to design and asks his guests what creating jewels brings to their lives.

With descriptions and drawings of some of his most notable pieces — inspired by his albums, his family, his fashion label The Billionaire Boys Club, and his creative partners — this is the ideal gift for lovers of mixed-medium art, the world of rap music, and hip-hop jewelry. (Published by Rizzoli.)

Chopard Bear pendant. (Massimo Bianchi)

Bulgari: Beyond Time

For those who love watchmaking and all of its mechanical intricacies, Bulgari: Beyond Time is an absolute must-have. Each of the eight chapters includes stories from the greatest Bulgari names, ambassadors, experts and fans, including sprinter Carl Lewis and Rahul Kadakia, the international head of jewelry at Christie’s.

Personal stories, product breakdowns and colorful imagery bring 100 years of Roman-inspired watchmaking creativity to life. This is an authorized history that dives into detail on Bulgari’s greatest horological achievements from the 1920s to the present. High-jewelry watches are, of course, a focal point, with their detailed savoir faire coming through in pieces such as the famous Giardino dell’Eden Tourbillon. Exploring the importance of time through the precious mediums of gems, metals and technology, this book is essential for all watch connoisseurs. (Published by Assouline.)

Serpenti Tubogas watch in yellow gold with diamond.
(Anita Schlaefli)

Main image: From left: Cartier: The Impossible Collection; Lydia Courteille: A Jeweller’s Odyssey; Dolce & Gabbana Alta Gioielleria: Masterpieces of High Jewellery; Bulgari: Beyond Time; Pharrell: Carbon, Pressure & Time: A Book of Jewels. (Assouline; ACC Art Books; Rizzoli)

This article is from the November-December 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

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Stumped for a Holiday Gift? Here Are Some of the Year’s Best Jewelry Books

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