The vast range of materials is impressive: coral, amber, horn, ivory, shells, pearls, wood, tortoiseshell, and such exotica as feathers, shagreen and bog oak – with origins from all over Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and the Far East. Their beauty often belies their age – amber (65 million years old) and mammoth ivory (10,000 years old).
Here, lavishly displayed, are superb works made by the world’s finest jewelers of the past two hundred years. Every major jeweler has created pieces of exceptional beauty, importance and style: Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, JAR, Cartier (their Art Deco coral bangles are icons of the period), Tiffany, Boivin, Verdura (whose seashell brooches studded with fine stones have long been collectors’ items), David Webb, Schlumberger, Lalique (whose name enbodies the best in Art Nouveau), Suzanne Belperron and Hermès.
Scores of modern designers are also featured (Andrew Grima, John Donald, Noma Copley) as well as artists today such as Patricia Von Musulin, Ted Muehling and Liv Blåvarp, whose exquisite objects show great respect for natural materials.
Including masses of information, each chapter explores the inspiration of a different material, with special profiles on designers, themes, or style icons such as Princess Grace of Monaco, Chanel and the Duchess of Windsor.