In the world of high jewelry (haute joaillerie or alta gioielleria) it is a rather well known fact that the French have always maintained a leading, if not, starring role. There is no question that the French have always been the leader of the pack, but Melissa Gabardi has offered the reader an amazing examination focused on the rise of Italy within this rarefied sphere as well as its rich history and heritage when it comes to jewelry.
Italian Jewelry of the 20th Century is a history/study of the evolution of the finest jewelry makers that the country has to offer, both past and present, and each brand’s trajectory toward prominence. The narrative is encyclopedic in content yet enormously interesting and engrossing. If the prospective reader has more than just a passing interest in the finest of jewelry, this book will certainly satisfy or a fill a void that has been missing in the annals of jewelry makers and their histories.
There are several factors that set this book apart from almost all of its relatives within the genre. First, the book is divided by decade rather than by brand or designer. Second, the inclusive nature of the content not only spotlights those makers who worked in gemstones but also includes several notables who worked in what we know as costume jewelry or fashion jewelry.
Gabardi is nothing short of admirably thorough in her telling which is more than credibly substantiated by an endless amount of original renderings and photographs of the majority of pieces described and highlighted in text.
What must be pointed out is that the book, while lushly illustrative, is not a picture book as without the text, the illustrations/photos are merely just pretty pictures if not somewhat repetitive. This is a book to read that can be used as a reference or as leisure reading even though it does lean heavily on the historical aspects of the Italian jewelry industry. | Jeffrey Felner