African Jewellery, photographed by Angela Fisher & Carol Beckwith

October 7, 2012 | No Comments

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
This week I was surfing on the internet and couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful pictures made by Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith (African Ark, Africa Adorned), more over than thirty years ago. Photos that give an intimate look inside several African cultures and show all the aesthetic jewels in their natural surrounding. The pictures become even more interesting as soon as you realize that within the local communities everyone is able to ‘read’ the social information of a specific person in a split second by the jewels. For example which tribe, relationship status/availible for marriage? In some case even how much she is adored by men, the more necklaces the more popular…this girl is very popular!
Besides all of this I am also always so impressed by the beautiful colours of the glass beads, the extraordinary feeling for the forms of the jewels and the transition from jewellery to body wear, sometimes in combination with body art and the knowhow that it’s not only for beauty. Which results in a poetic relation towards the natural surrounding and age of the person on the photo.
The photos above are perhaps not all of Angela Fisher and/or Carol Beckweth. But I did found a site with many photos only made by them. Go here to have a look.

Book recommendations:‘Africa Adorned’, by Angela Fisher, hardcover, $210.‘Painted Bodies’, by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, €100, ISBN 978-0847-834-051.

‘History of Beads” , by Lois Sherr Dubun, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-8109-5174-7, $75.

‘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’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.

‘A Talk with Liesbeth den Besten’, Chairwoman of The Françoise van den Bosch Foundation

June 18, 2012 | No Comments

Françoise van den Bosch was a very passionate Dutch jewellery maker and it is that passion which is the absolute base of  the foundation’s aim; To stimulate the  national and international contemporary jewellery makers in their passion.

In 1980 the foundation was established by friends and family of Françoise after she passed away at an age of 33, far too young and just at the beginning of a very successful career as a jewellery-artist.From the early nineties Liesbeth den Besten has been involved in the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation and since 2000 she’s the Foundations chairwoman-  this year she starts her final 4-years period for the Foundation. Fully prepared of course I looked forward to questioning her about what the foundation had already done and its plans for the nearby future. Overwhelmed by the Foundations long list of accomplishments and by the devotion of Liesbeth I hope that I can do justice as I summarise her quotations.

“During this period, of more than over 30 years, the Foundation has accomplished a lot and there’s still a lot more to do! The art market is always on the go and we try to react on that by helping and stimulating makers in the right way with all influences and limited’s we have. Interest and awareness in  art jewellery is visibly growing, we are in contact with many interesting jewellery-artists worldwide, we purchase new work for the Françoise van den Bosch collection which is held by the  ‘Stedelijk museum’, Amsterdam, we  initiate lectures, there’s a prize every two years in which we have to select and prepare ( The laureate gets a solo-exhibition with matching opening drink, we often help the winner by publishing a book or promoting an event that is created by the artist with the financial contribution of the Foundations award). We stimulate a lot of activities and our newest challenge is to make our ‘Artist in Residency’ a successful reoccurring yearly event. From the start of the foundation it is runned by volunteers. They all dedicate time, passion and energy to this work, besides having their own regular and busy jobs – all but one in the realm of art and jewellery. Without their imput it would not have been possible to do, and have done, all this work”.

The Artist in Residence project

“The project was launched last year in cooperation with jewellery artist Rian de Jong. The Foundation makes quite a beautiful offer; A stay for one artist for two months in De Jong’s studio-apartment in the centre of Amsterdam, which is generously offered to us by her and her partner Herman Marres, with the opportunity to give a lecture at Amsterdam Gerrit Rietveld Academy of Art , a solo presentation in a shopwindow showcase of the apartment complex at the Stuurmanskade during a month and naturally our intensive support during the whole period of residence, and the introduction to our netwerk of galleries, collectors, teachers, artists etc. Plus at the end of the residency an open studio time to show the results of the period of stay for invited guests.

Therefore the selection criterion of the artist is of a high standard. It’s not only about skills, but it’s also about personality, the portfolio and far more important ‘what the artist has to offer us and do we think we can stimulate this artist?’  We have received requests from all over the world! It’s an honour we’ve received so many highly interesting application forms. Thus we feel it as our task to make this period as interesting as possible for the artist and our public.

The registration period* for 2012 is closed. This year the Foundation has selected Tracy Steepy, biography and impression of her work, comes from Providence (USA), so we are busy organizing every thing that comes along with it”.

*Note to all my dear blog-readers about the registration of ‘Art at Residence’: I would like to apoligise immediately to all of you that I just totally forgot to write an article with a direct link to the registration form last December. This year I will be on time, in December…prepare yourself already..The Françoise van den-Bosch Award & the jewellery collection
“The most important happening of this foundation is of course The Award! An international prize for a ‘jewellery artist’ who is important to  jewellery design for that specific moment.  The award consists of an amount of money, next to the purchase of a piece of jewellery of the artist and a solo exhibition in an interesting museum.

Although there were two different awards in former days, one for an artist and one for an important promoting jewellery person or institute, we now have only one award every two years for a jewellery artist. In the year we don’t have the award we buy work of different young talented artists for the Françoise van den Bosch jewellery collection. This is in the correct way not a prize, nevertheless it’s an absolute stimulating impulse for the artist. Who’s object will be added to the Françoise van den Bosch collection (often on display at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam). In the new Stedelijk Museum parts of their jewellery collection, including the Françoise van de Bosch collection will be permanently on display in the jewellery pavilion.

The Françoise van den Bosch collection started with the jewellery of Françoise herself which she left behind at her studio when she passed away. She also exchanged her own jewellery with contemporary artists of those days, therefore the collection was interesting from the beginning onwards. Think of early pieces of Gijs Bakker, Ruudt Peters and in meantime expanded with pieces of  Paul Derez,  Pierre Degen, Marijke de Goey and many more.

Since the foundation started we purchased many jewels and we received beautiful donations of important artists and collectors. Nowadays the collection contains more over than 130 objects which are on loan at the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam. We are very happy with this cooperation because they have already an important jewellery collection themselves and these two collections assemble beautifully together.

As you will understand this made a huge change to the activities of the foundation started in 1980. The responsibility of this important international collection and acquisition of new pieces for the collection are our focus points. Many considerations have to be discussed in order to promote responsible purchases, because our finances are limited (but all our personal wishes and dreams reach into the infinite..)  and a matching piece for the collection is always our absolute goal.
Our latest acquisition: Corn Cob, by David Bielander!The biggest goal of the foundation for 2012
“That’s an easy one to head in! Looking for funding to improve things like stimulating activities, purchasing work of young talent, improving the interactive possibilities of the web-site & consolidating the foundation. But how to do it exactly, while the jewellery world changes constantly, is one we have to take in consideration…while all our standard activities go on”.

Liesbeth’s book recommendations:
‘Françoise van den Bosch (1944-1977)’, by Jerven Ober (ed), published by the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation in 1990. Dutch/English, hardcover, ISBN 90 72173023 (only available antiquarian). Reason: “this is an interesting book about Françoise, her work and her importance as a jewellery designer, written by the first chairman of the foundation.”

‘Wearable’, by Lisa Walker, Munich/Wellington 2011. English, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-473-18423-0 Reason: “she is the recipiënt of the Françoise van den Bosch Award 2010 and Lisa made the book for this reason. It was presented during her exhibition at the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen in 2011. Her work is so unique & Lisa is so funny and truly passionate.”
‘Contemporary Jewelry: A Critical Assessment 1945-1975′, by Ralph Turner, hardcover, only available antiquarian, ISBN: 0-289-70433-2. Reason: “This was my bible during my studytime, history of art. Amazing that he was able to make this book at that time – without internet!’

‘Contemporary Jewellers, Interviews with European artists’, by Roberta Bernabei, , Berg 2011, English, ISBN 978 1 84520 770 0. Reason: “An interesting source book that just came out, containing interviews with 25 jewellers among them 7 recipients of the Françoise van den Bosch Award! For me it proves that the Foundation is a reliable organisation in the realm of contemporary jewellery”.

As you all will remind Liesbeth is also the author of ‘On Jewellery’ and the guest curator of ‘Unleashed!’ Therefore right now also a direct link to the ‘Jewellery Unleashed! Symposium’ lately in the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem, and  in the Museum in Bellerive in Zurich from May 10 – September 23 2012 titled ‘Entfesselt – Schmuck ohne Grenzen’.

This article is published with the courtesy of Liesbeth den Besten, 2012.

Jewel-Catch of the Season!

May 6, 2012 | No Comments

This year the spring/summer-season has several unique things to offer in ‘Jewellery-country’ & I made a refreshing collection for you! Of course I must start with London; The Diamond Jubilee exhibition ‘My Best Diamonds’at Buckingham Palace marking the Queen’s Elisabeth II 60th year as reigning monarch. As well a direct link to the beautiful Royal Collection right now & my book recommendation that everyone will like:”The Crown Jewels”, by Anna Keay (ISBN 978-0-500-2898202), which is available in hardcover and paperback (GBP 14.95). Directly followed-up by an introduction to the Olympic Games chains for this year, held in London. And someone (sorry I forgot your name) told me the Jewellery Week 2012, held in London from 11 until 17 june, is very nice to go to because of diversity. I’ve never been there, but seems great to me. Have a good time!As well as the major exhibitionRooms of Dreams: Wendy Ramshaw’, at Somerset House, until 24th June 2012. Further Ted Noten’s Summer School 2012 again! This will be held in Amsterdam. Hereby the ability to apply directly.The  Gemeente Museum,  The Hague, has on show the beautiful exhibition  ‘Gold from Java & Silver from Batavia’ it will continue until 4th of November 2012.Personally I was enormously surprised by the quality with which the jewels are manufactured, they are so tiny & so detailed! It’s more than impressive, amazingly beautiful. I found it also amazing to see (and hear) that of some pieces it is unknown how they were worn. The exhibition is accompanied by two publications: Divine Gold:Jewellery from Java, Indonesia, by Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer (ISBN 978-90-400-0360-8, Wbooks, €24.95) and ‘Silver from Batavia; religios and everyday silver objects from the time of the Dutch East India’ by Titus M. Eliëns (WBooks, €27.95)

Funny, colourful and nice made costume jewellery by Ayala Bar!

Solidaridad has started  Solidaridad’s gold campaign. The Dutch fairtrade fair is titled ‘Nederland verdient Goed Goud’, translated:’The Netherlands deserves Good Gold’. Also Zita Jansen will participate this campaign with a small collection.First Fairtrade & Fairmined gold jewellery in The Netherlands, Monday 7th May, 15.00 – 18.30  /  restaurant Stork  / Amsterdam-Nort
Last but not  least
Being on the Internet always brings me to unexpected corners of the world, and I adore that. This time somehow I ended up at ‘The Brooklyn Flea, New York. Believe or not, they do have jewellery stalls! If I were you I would visit it, I’m not in the neigbourhood. Perhaps it will be your lucky day & you will find a true treasure. If so, please show me! If not, ‘squeeze your eyes and dream on’. I wish you a wonderful sunny afternoon!
PS: My personal latest ‘trouvaille’ this morning
Wouters & Hendrix! Very subtle jewels with a sweet  fresh look. Don’t forget to look at their biography & current collection!

‘Paul Flato, Jeweler to the Stars’, by Elizabeth Irvine Bray

April 18, 2012 | No Comments

Influenced by the Red Carpet walk at the recent Grammy Awards, I was determined to read the book “Paul Flato, Jeweler to the Stars’. Because it reads like a novel to me I have to share it with you.

Wow! What a collection, What a life! What a book! Elizabeth Irvine Bray succeeded in creating a book that sucks you in from the first pages into the life of this enigmatic artist, Paul Flato.

He was the most famous American jeweller of his era, with many famous Hollywood actress and others among his clientele. But his life was not only fame and glory. As Elizabeth quotes, “Flato also endured extreme hardship. He faced prison time, financial ruin, failed marriages and personal disappointment. His highs and lows, successes and failures, create a story that resonates with anyone”.

The book contains an enormous amount of beautiful gouache sketches of eccentric jewels with wonderful photos of the marvelous jewels, pictures of famous Hollywood actresses wearing his pieces and good photos of the hallmarks he used.

Together with the immense content, described in great detail and including historical facts and many quotes, the identity of Paul Flato becomes clearly visible. In short, it is a portrait of a charming, socially fluid and remarkable business man (understanding very well the value of branding and surrounding himself only by highly-skilled people), designer, autodidact pearl and gemstone specialist, who came from a good family and loved to travel all over the world.  With a true love for adventure, experiencing local cultures and using folk art and other inspirations, he translated his experiences into new jewellery designs. He had a life filled with good fortune and unfortunately also bad luck.

Flato’s jewellery was featured in many movies, among others his first film, “Holiday”, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  Looking at all the images, the most remarkable thing for me about his collection is that it does not consists only of highly elegant expressive show-off jewels set with the most beautiful gemstones, but also many intimately designed jewels. Clearly, all his pieces were made with outstanding craftsmanship. His Los Angeles period was his most impressive professional phase, but his Mexican period produced beautiful jewellery, as well.If you would like to see more jewels of Flato, visit at the online database of V& A , the Victoria &Albert Museum, London. Remember to type his name again in the search box and other jewels of Flato will be returned in the result.

This book is by far the most exciting jewellery book I ever read (ISBN 9-781851-496242, $85), one that will not even touch on your nightstand before it’s finished!

Let’s hope for a revival of Paul Flato jewels!

Flato’s jewellery was featured in many movies


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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