History Of Jewelry Books

History of Jewelry Books date all the way back to the 18th century. Jewelry has been around for centuries, and books about this art form have had a long and fascinating history.

From the ancient Egyptians who crafted delicate lapis lazuli scarabs to modern-day designers creating unique pieces, jewelry has held an important part in human culture. While certain pieces of jewelry may go out of fashion from time to time, books remain as a way to study and document art forms that otherwise could be lost over the years.

The 19th Century: A Growing Interest in Jewelry Books In the 19th century, the interest in jewelry books began to grow significantly. This was due in part to new developments in technology such as photography and advances in the printing process which made it easier for authors to produce detailed images and illustrations for their works.

Jewelers were excited by this development as it allowed them to showcase their works with a level of detail that simply wasn’t possible before.

For example, some jewelers began producing photopraphs and catalogs to advertise their wares, while others published full-length books on technical topics such as gemology or engraving. As well as these production successes stood more artistic titles which featured collections of jewels put forth by prominent personalities like Napoleon III or gems worn by high society women.

20th Century: Social Changes Inspire Change The 20th century brought social changes which saw new kinds of books become popular such as those aimed at children or those celebrating alternative cultures like Native American. Themes such as sustainability also provided an interesting angle for authors who would go on to write about ethical sourcing guidelines or preservation methods for antique pieces.

At this same time modern design movements like art deco and art nouveau influenced reformers who took ideas from these periods into their own designs creating vibrant wearable works inspired by materials such as wood, crystal, glass bead strings and brass wires.

Additionally small independent publishers emerged offering specialized titles that both preserved old traditions but suggested progressive ideas like how design engagement rings with pendants rather than diamond solitaires can create beautiful works of art while keeping costs down – perfect for a generation increasingly turning away from consumerism.

Ancient Examples

The earliest example of a jewelry book known to man dates back to Ancient Egypt, over 5000 years ago. Called the Amarna Book of Jewelry, it was used by royal Egyptians and portrayed the opulence and luxury of their people. The book focused on bangles, necklaces, earrings, circlets and other such items encrusted with colorful gems. It is believed that this book inspired many jewelry designs for years after its creation.

Another example from Ancient Egypt is the Metternich Stele – a wooden board covered in gold portraying women wearing heavy gold ornaments along with large headdresses made of precious stones and beads. It emphasizes the important role jewelry had for both men and women in Ancient Egyptian culture which is why scenes like this were frequently illustrated in books dedicated to metalworking.

Moving onto Greece we can observe another ancient form of a jewelry book known as Orfia (or Orphic Hymns). While not exactly meant for jewelry design, it referenced extensively on goldsmithing practices – more so on gilding than actual jewelry. Forms of livestock crafted from precious metal were made known through such books, signifying their important role in Greek society at that time.

Artefacts Underlining the Influence of Craftsmanship

In addition to popular art such as paintings and sculptures depicting jewelry-wearing characters or scenes, man has been able to uncover metalwork artefacts with intricate craftsmanship never seen before in history – clearly signifying how much influence these books have had over thousands of years until present day.

Examples include those found in tombs; think carved silver roses that would have given a message about immortality or golden woman figurines believed to have come from an era when girls were offered it as dowry.

Furthermore, archaeological discoveries give us further insight into the way small items such as rings, earrings or necklaces looked like back then. Unearthing old pieces not only gives us the chance to admire craftsmanship no longer seen today but also providing us modern-day jewelers hints on how items could look if they attempted recreating them today.

Manuscripts Showing Medieval Jeweler’s Trade Secrets

As trade expanded throughout England during medieval times, records started appearing showing craftsmen’s secrets. Commonly referred to as ‘jewelry boxes’ but also forming the most comprehensive source of information about early metal work and fine jewels, these manuscripts show how every item was developed using precise measurements and exact amount o material needed for every piece combining precious metals along with enamels and gemstones.

Surprisingly enough though these documents weren’t focusing exclusively on creating lavish pieces fit for Kings – they weren’t confined only within London’s city walls either. They incorporated tales from far jurisdictions also regarding both production and sale – used by anyone who traded objects made out of metals – even low-end charms sold for everyday use other than luxury items meant solely for wealthy clientele.

Master’s Influence

The history of jewelry books has been heavily influenced by the Italian renaissance masters. These skilled craftsmen created intricate works of metalwork and artistry, many of which can still be admired today. One of the greatest contributions to jewelry book history is the work done in Venice during the 16th century, by a man named Girolamo Ruscelli. He was an aficionado and collector of goldsmiths’ work, producing several highly valuable treatises between 1568 and 1616.

This period marked a major change for jewelry books; before these, there were only brief mentions in manuscripts or philosophical texts. However, Ruscelli’s work provided comprehensive information on goldsmithing techniques, tools, materials and design elements while providing detailed illustrations depicting his extensive collection.

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His manual was popularly known as ‘Tratta de Ricchezze et Poezia d’Ori’ – Treatise on Wealth and Poetry in Gold – helping establishVenice as a preeminent site for making works of art. He goes beyond just describing how to make items – he put down a philosophy on making beautiful things that could capture someone’s soul within it.

Influencing Later Writers through Engraving

A significant portion of Ruscelli’s influence came from his research into engraving techniques that would distinguish Italian masters from others at the time. His renowned manual contains two chapters dedicated to engravings depicting various jewelry pieces-some merely demonstrating geometry, others intricate representations of wildlife or scenes from mythology and scripture-among other graphics and instructions for creating fine objects like vases or swords etc.

These engravings made it easier to disseminate ideas among craftsmen across Europe who accessed them via printed copies but also served as an impetus for other writers to publish their own books about jewelry making.

Pope Urban VIII’s Support

While most influential Italian jeweler-writers existed prior to the mid-1600s, this era saw some notable figures in addition to Renaissance master Girolamo Ruscelli; they needed financial backing which was provided mainly by Pope Urban VIII Barbieri (1623-44). Pope Urban VIII was an exceptional patron of jewelry books publishing, often boarding authors such as Antonio Penagos (1640) and Giovan Battista Benedetti (1650), both famous lapidaries known for their involvement in art restoration efforts during that time period.

The Pope extended his patronage beyond just commissioning new manuscripts; he also ensured that deserving authors were compensated for their labors which helped spur growth within the industry leading up to modern day releases featuring diamond drilling instructions and various types of fabrication methods used today in manufacturing different kinds of gemstone pieces.

Cultural Revival

The 19th century marked a period of intense cultural revival, and as such saw the splendor of gemstone pieces become extremely popularized. Marie-Antoinette was instrumental in popularizing large, fanciful jewels during this time. She wore her jewelry both to represent her immense power, as well as her sense of pride for French fashion. Her influence spread across Europe and it quickly became de rigueur to own spectacularly ornate gemstone creations.

Famed Parisian jewelers such as Fouquet and Preuninger became well-known for their exceptional stone work from this era, with necklaces and headdresses becoming evermore oversized and complex in design. This latter part of the 1800s is also considered the golden age for snuff boxes-decorative pocket-sized receptacles filled with tobacco often set with precious jewels, enamels and gold detailing – these pieces were highly sought after by the upper class.

This was also an era where jewels began to teeter away from purely being objects of lavishness to being a statement of personal style; individual stones were arranged together to communicate personal flair and desire that made them so adored. Many books were written on the subject which plays an important part in the history of jewelry books:

  • Jewelry: One Thousand Years Of Style, Kenneth J Lane
  • Ancient European Jewelry, Grazia Tucci
  • Jeweled Art: Masterpieces From The Deposito Gioielli Of Palazzo Pitti, Kathleen Spanel et al.
  • Early Engraved Gems & Cameos, William Campbell Brown
  • Marie Antoinette’s Jewelry, Desmond Heap.

English Designers

The popularity of jewelry design as a hobby began in England in the 19th century. This period ushered in a new interest in European culture and fashion, and led to a huge boom in jewelry-making.

British designers such as Charles Frederick Worth and George Stokes gained fame for their intricate designs that captured the characteristic aesthetic style of the era. The craftsmanship they displayed, along with their use of beads and precious metals, established them as the premier jewelers of their day.

The Craft Of Jewelry Making

Jewelry making was an intriguing pastime for those living during this time, and as a result numerous books on the craft began to be published. Manuals such as ‘The Art of Jewelry’ written by William Cripps in 1872 provided those interested with all the information needed to make fine works of art from simple household items like wires or beads.

These books detailed tutorials and easy-to-follow instructions on various techniques such as piercing, soldering, electroplating, stone setting, engraving, enamelling and more.

The Popularity of Art Nouveau Jewellery

By the 1890s Europe had become captivated by Art Nouveau designs which were characterised by a beautiful curved line quality and naturalistic motifs like feathers or flowers. Books on Art Nouveau jewellery design such as ‘The Arts & Crafts of Jewellery Making’ written by Oscar E. Ubbelohde provided anyone with an interest with tutorials on creating stunning pieces featuring these traditional patterns.

Simpler versions such as screw clasps were also popular; these could be easily crafted at home following instructions found in many manual books available at libraries or bookstores at that time. Other popular publications like ‘A Collection Of Jewellery Designs With Directions For Their Establishment’ edited by J E Coster included detailed images of finished pieces setting out exactly how they could be replicated step by step – perfect for budding jewelry makers keen to get started recreating beautiful pieces quickly.


In the nineteenth century, there was a rediscovery of jewelry books. A vast array of old and new knowledge was revitalized as artisans began to delve deeper into jewelry literature. It was an exciting era for craftspeople as they explored and experimented with knowledge that had been forgotten for centuries. This newfound understanding led to the reinterpretation of various types of jewelry designs and broadened the possibilities for creating dynamic pieces.

It was during this time, that some of the most influential jewelry books came into existence. These publications provided insight into materials, techniques, design processes, and more. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Chaptal’s Traité de Joaillerie (1792)
  • Jean Albert Galle’s L’Orfèvrerie Ancienne (1835)
  • Georg-Ludwig Neumann’s Die Kunst des Schmuckes (1837)
  • John Henning’s The Art of Jewellery Making (1841),
  • Charles Relez’s L’Art du bijoutier joaillier et du bracelet façonnier exhibited at Paris World’s Fair (1855)
History Of Bead Jewelry Making

Chaptal’s Traité de Joaillerie was written by French chemist Jean-Antoine Chaptal in 1792. In it he discussed his experiments done on platinum, silver and gold objects found in ancient ruins from Etruria and Egypt. He made observations on how different metals leached colour when exposed to acid or salt baths, which became an essential tool for verifying great antiquity stamped onto workshops production metalsmith pieces in Europe during this time period.

His treatise also included instructions for assaying precious metals – basically guidelines for identifying fake jewellery from the genuine article – something critical at this time given rampant counterfeiting of coins and jewellery being practiced throughout.

Other notable authors include Jean Albert Galle who wrote L’Orfèvrerie Ancienne in 1835 which focussed on analyzing antique jewellery finds from around Europe as well as Georg-Ludwig Neumann who wrote Die Kunst des Schmuckes in 1837 – a book which described the fundamentals behind casting metal items like jewellery pieces via moulds or models carved out physically out wood or clay.

John Henning wrote The Art Of Jeweller Making published in 1841 where he shared detailed information about using stones such as diamonds, turquoise and coral along with detailed drawings so novice artisans could replicate them accurately later on.

And finally Charles Relez authored L’ Art Du Bijoutier Joaillier at Paris World’s Fair 1855; it focussed mainly on producing fine gold chains according to size and material chosen by clients but also mentioned certain gemstone setting tips useful during specialty demands like lockets and pocket watch cases etc.

All these books created an exemplar standard among craftspeople willing to render best services possible within their craftsmanship parameters offering something novel even if previously covered upon elsewhere before release each item individually.

Contemporary Reads

The craft of creating jewelry has been around for centuries, providing us with objects of beauty that often reflect our personalities. Jewelry plays an important role in many cultures and the various designs, symbols, and gemstones often have a deeper symbolic meaning.

In recent years, jewelry books have become popular amongst collectors as it can inspire creativity and provide knowledge on how each type of item is made. Written by those knowledgeable in the topic, these publications are packed full of photos showcasing timeless pieces and their makers. From well-known fine jewelry designers to lesser-known artisans, readers are able to discover the stories behind each product – be it a necklace, ring or bracelet.

What’s Inside Contemporary Collectors Guides

Many modern jewelry books also explore rare and vintage items as well as trending styles. They look at popular designs from different time periods to study artistic developments throughout history.

In addition to studying ancient artifacts, collectors will find contemporary works such as designer collaborations with artisan cooperatives or small independent jewellers who produce unique handmade works. Furthermore, many publications include expert advice on buying vintage jewelry; these tips are particularly helpful to curious buyers since vintage finds may require extra care when being worn or stored.

Presentation is also explored in these guides; photographs and sketches showcase intricate detail not visible to the naked eye, showing the creative process involved in fashioning such items. With stories from around the world telling about why certain pieces were created as well as the symbolism they represent or hold dear for its previous owner – contemporary jewelry books make for an inspiring read.

Final Thoughts

Jewelry books have been around for centuries. They provide readers with a wealth of knowledge about the history and origin of jewelry. Many contain instructional content which teaches technical skills that can be used to make and repair jewelry. For some, they are simply beautiful objects that remind them of the wealth and grandeur that comes with this type of craftsmanship.

The earliest recorded example of a jewelry book dates back to 1551. This was a treatise titled “The Craftsman’s Handbook” by German author Paul von Eisenhut. It defined the most important aspects of jewelry production such as cutting gems, setting stones, gilding metals, enameling, and filigree work. Although different in its time period, it reflects the same principles established by modern jewelers today including using proper tools in order to create quality results.

Throughout the 18th century and 19th centuries, a variety of textbooks were published on design theory and success in goldsmithing artistry. These publications still remain relevant today because many techniques have stood the test of time despite changing styles and technological advancements in crafting tools.

For example, Jean-Jacques Fritsch & Joseph Nee’s influential textbook “Modern Jewelry Occupations” from 1901 is mentioned frequently by modern craftsmen as an excellent reference guide for certain tasks such as lapidary or engraving on precious metals or gemstones in order to achieve desired outcomes.

The preservation of craftsmanship continues today thanks to books written by renowned authors like Reinhold Recker who follows traditional processes for creating amazing works through his practical research methods outlined in his book titled “Wooden Jewellery: Making Unforgettable Pieces from Ordinary Materials” which serves as an instruction manual for designing wooden components for jewelry-related creations such as necklaces or rings.

Whether used as instructional material or aesthetically pleasing décor, jewelry books speak to all levels of collector providing insight into each unique piece’s worth both monetarily and sentimentally throughout history while also providing valuable resources for those interested in pursuing professional avenues or mastering new techniques with more focused attention to detail when producing pieces fit for royalty.

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