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Diamond Jewelry

700 Years of Glory and Glamour

Mrs Diana Scarisbrick


A social history of diamond jewelry, told through the stories of the European rulers and socialites who commissioned and wore it

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Diamonds are among the most precious gemstones, and they have long been symbolic of political power and authority in Europe. Diamond jewelry was worn to dazzle and impress – at weddings, coronations, christenings and state visits – and to present as gifts reflecting princely generosity. Over the centuries, these displays proved remarkably successful as instruments of government, symbolizing the pride and glory of a nation.

Diamond Jewelry focuses on the individuals who commissioned and wore these extraordinarily valuable ornaments from the mid-14th century until today’s 'democratization' of diamonds, which began with the opening of mines in South Africa in 1867. This enthralling story includes figures from Lisbon to London and Stockholm to St. Petersburg, showing the way in which rulers such as Louis XIV of France and Elizabeth I of England, as well as screen icons such as Elizabeth Taylor, used diamond jewelry to reinforce their power.

Exquisite paintings and detailed photography capture the successive styles of diamond jewelry across 700 years, from late Gothic naturalism and the culture of the Renaissance, to Baroque splendour, Rococo elegance and the Imperial grandeur of the First and Second Napoleonic Empires. Written by an acknowledged expert, this book puts breathtaking masterpieces in context, offering a compelling overview of one of the world’s most captivating gems.

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'[A] richly illustrated social history of diamond jewelry'
JCK Online

'Like cloves in a pomander, nuggets of splendid excess stud this handsome overview … a densely illustrated survey, written with authority – as well as a peppering of wit to add an appropriate degree of sparkle'
Country Life

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 30.5 x 22.5 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Illustrations: 311

Publication date: 19 September 2019

ISBN: 9780500021507

About the Author

Diana Scarisbrick is an art historian specializing in the history of engraved gems and jewelry. Her publications include Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty and Portrait Jewels: Opulence and Intimacy from the Medici to the Romanovs, and (as co-author) Elihu Yale: Merchant, Collector & Patron, all published by Thames & Hudson.