‘Costume Jewellery, Asian jewellery, Haute Joaillerie, Pearls and a 19th Century Collection”

September 12, 2012 | No Comments

‘Long time no see’ will be your thought! That’s right, this year I took a unique long Summer holiday! Enjoying the beach, prairie and spending family life at the country-side (‘Jardin de la terre …un petite coin perdu..’), visiting many beautiful exhibitions & reading the books that arrived on my desk. Lovely, lucky me!

As in the past and what now has become an annual tradition I visit the ‘Museé Christian Dior’ in Granville (France). The Christian Dior museum is located in his beautiful childhood home situated at a cliff top with an extraordinary garden (coloured and perfumed flowers) and sea view. This year the summer-exhibition was ‘Stars in Dior’, about Hollywood dresses. An eye-catching collection! Which we combined with a workshop about fragrances at the ‘reading room’ (the charming tea-house) in the garden.Meanwhile the book “Grossé + Bijoux Christian Dior by Henkel & Grosse” arrived on my desk! A beautiful book! A highly interesting text and beautiful photos about the Henkel & Grosse company and the cooperation with Christian Dior next to a good impression of the collections of the last century. Designs so known to each and every one of us (in the western world) ISBN 978-3-89790-335-7.
Personally I was totally amazed by ‘Grossé hair chain with metal applique’ made in 1907, at page 31. This piece of costume jewellery implicates to me  the fact that memento-mori and mourning jewellery wasn’t always correctly made by the hair of the deceased. Years ago someone made me aware of the fact that you almost never see mourning jewellery made of blond or red hair. Striking, because in England the Country where mourning jewellery was so common, is known  for  people with red hair. Funny, in my opinion, is that there has been a serious market (or at least a try-out for it) for fake mourning costume-jewellery.
At the online database of the V&A I did find a Christian Dior costume jewellery necklace by the British John Galliano, where you also find many other fashion designs by Christian Dior.

The other part of my holiday was filled with visiting Asian jewellery exhibitions and permanent collections
First I went to exhibition ‘Gold from Java’ at the Gemeente museum in The Hague, again. But this time guided by Madame Lunsingh Scheurleer, the guest-curator and writer of the accompanied book, herself! I enjoyed  a very inspiring time! A very nice exhibition with extraordinary examples! Accompanied by a catalogue ‘Gold from Java’ with extremely beautiful enlarged photos of the jewels of the show. ISBN 978-9040-003-608, written in both Dutch and English.

Soon thereafter I went to the museum Volkenkunde (Museum of Ethnology) in Leiden (The Netherlands) where you can find in the permanent collection, in the Indonesian room, golden jewellery from the Hindu-Buddhist period mainly collected due to the colonialist time of the Netherlands. Lucky me again, there was (and still is) also a small exhibition ‘The Hidden Garden, Jewellery from India’ going on, and will be on show until 6 January 2013. (Next to the impressive Terracotta Warriors from China exhibition…although no jewellery of course..it’s so beautiful and with such an impressive video…you’ve got to see it..I have to mention it).

Followed-up by a visit to the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam) which has an impressive  collection of Asian jewellery permanent on show, divided over several rooms. Every Saturday & Sunday they have a workshop for children, aged 4 to 12 years, ‘Make your own cool beads’ from recycled paper. €8 each person including admission. Please take a look at their web-site for more information.Because of the book ‘Elemental Art of the Indonesian Archipelago’ (selections from the collection of Mingei International Museum, San Diego USA), ISBN 0-914155-19-9. I surfed to their web-site and found the astonishing on-line collection. Besides a beautiful permanent jewellery collection it seems to me they frequently have exhibitions with jewellery & gemstone in it.

Furthermore I enjoyed  the exhibition ‘Magie van de Vrouw’ at the Wereldmuseum (Rotterdam, Netherlands), which was held until 9th September…sorry too late. But I’m on time for the next coming ones..

Forthcoming Evensts & Exhibitions‘Parelen, in kunst, nature en dans’ (Pearls, in art, nature & dance’), Museum Lakenhal (Leiden, Netherlands), from 16 September onwards (opening the 15th..lucky me again!) until 13th January 2013.‘In the Nave’, Van Cleef & Arpels la haute couture de la joaillerie, Musee des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, from 20 September 2012 until 10th February 2013. All the daring of the creations of this legendary jewellery house will be highlighted in the Nave at Les Arts Décoratifs, with 400 pieces that have made the fame of Van Cleef & Arpels since 1906. The exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful edition, hardcover, English and French, 320 pages, ISBN so far unknown to me, €54.The Collection of Ilona van der Bilt-Ptasnik, Zilvermuseum (Schoonhoven, Netherlands), will become part of the permanent collection from 25 September 2012 onwards. Last year, the Dutch Silver Museum Schoonhoven received a generous donation from the estate of Ilona Ptasnik. A large collection of antique jewellery for the Silver Museum of an unknown woman. Through research, they know in meantime that she was born in Amsterdam in 1918 in a Jewish family from Poland. The threat of war in 1938, her parents decided to emigrate to America. Where Ilona married Adriaan van der Bilt with whom she returned to the Netherlands in 1946. Her jewellery collection shows a personal preference for stones, but otherwise the collection is a sample of goldsmithing, styles, techniques, fashion and cultural history.

“Angels’ Tears or Gems of the Ocean Pearls in the History of Jewellery”, Pforzheim Schmuck Museum, from 26 October 2012 until 27 January 2013. This exhibition will show the historical and current examples of the diversity and artistry the use of pearls in jewelry, with loans from Albion Art in Tokyo, Chaumet dits Meller and Mellerio in Paris, the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, the Qatar Museum Authority in Doha or Tiffany’s in New York. Particular gems and tiaras from the 19th and 20th Century, from the state collections in Qatar, which heads the Princesses of Württemberg
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen the daughter of Sissi tiara. (see photo above)
The exhibition has many lectures, concert and other activities to enjoy, please take a look at their web-site.

The Zelnik Collection, at The Istvan Zelnik Southcast Asian Gold Museum, Budapest, Hungary. Looks impressive to me reading this article at ‘Asian Art’.

And last but not least; Carien, I would like to thank you very much for your input and effort for this article! Please keep up-dating me with interesting exhibitions and what-so-ever. Great to have met you through my blog & I hope to meet you in the nearby future.


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Margriet Sopers

Margriet Sopers, FGA

Having a diploma in jewellery, FGA and a propaedeutic of the Academy of Art followed-up by interesting years as a jewellery expert at Sotheby's & Gemeentelijke Krediet Bank, as well as being a member for years of the Society of Jewellery Historians, I am glad to share with you today's world of jewellery.

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