A New Jewelry Tome And September’s Birthstone: “Sapphire: A Celebration Of Color”

2022-04-26 02:45:58 By : Ms. Monica wang

Book Jacket of Joanna Hardy's new book "Sapphire: A Celebration of Color"

Are you choosing a gift for yourself or your September born significant other and thinking about birthstone jewelry? If so then put this book on your pre-order list. It’s not just any book. Entitled Sapphire : A Celebration of Color (Thames & Hudson, October 5, 2021), it’s written by illustrious jewelry historian, author and expert, Joanna Hardy and edited by Robert Violette and it is the type of coffee table book that you won’t be able to put down from start to finish, from the lively, informative and fascinating text to the photos of nobility to Hollywood royalty jewelry icons wearing their favorite sapphires—-jewels from the most renowned houses throughout history. Many of these types of books you read in installments but this one from early trade routes to modern jewelry collections and historical references of different time periods and styles in between showcases the most alluring sapphires and reveals previously unseen designs.

Carol Lombard wearing her cabochon sapphire ring which she received when she was married to William Powell

Portrait of American actor Carole Lombard (1908-1942) looking to the side with one elbow propped up. ... [+] She wears an evening gown and a large ring. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Joanna Hardy is also the principal author of Emerald: Twenty-one Centuries of Jeweled Opulence and Power and sole author of Ruby: The King of Gems, also published by Thames & Hudson in association with Violette Editions as well as other books including Cheapside Horde. She is an independent gemologist and jewelry specialist, formerly of De Beers and Sotheby’s. She lectures widely and writes for many international journals, and also appears on the popular BBC program Antiques Roadshow.

Here, an interview Joanna Hardy on her love of jewels and Sapphire: A Celebration of Color:

Can you talk a little about your background and the first book you authored?

 “For the last 35 years I have travelled the world discovering beautiful jewels and gems that many people only dream about. I count myself as being incredibly fortunate to have had a career in a subject that I am passionate about. Having started my career making jewelry, I have always been interested in contemporary ‘Studio’ jewelry that has been designed and made by the goldsmith. When I was working at Sotheby’s, in 2006 and 2007, I initiated a contemporary jewelry selling exhibition called ‘London Rocks’, and when I left in 2009, I embarked on my first book with Thames & Hudson called Collect Contemporary Jewelry. I am still working my way through acquiring jewels from the makers I wrote about.”

You wrote Emeralds and Ruby and now Sapphire. Was there a reason for the order in which you wrote the books?

 “After I left Sotheby’s in 2009, I was invited by a dear friend of mine to his wedding in Jaipur, India; the groom, a gem dealer, introduced me to Sean Gilberston, from the responsible mining company Gemfields, who was also attending the wedding. Gemfields’ emerald mine Kagem was in full production at the time and the company subsequently decided to have a book written on emeralds. When I returned to London, I got a call to be the author for the jewellery section of the proposed book. With the success of Emerald (2013) and the new ruby deposit in Mozambique coming online, it was a natural progression to follow with a book on rubies (Ruby, 2017).”

The 15.73-carat Buddha Blue Ceylon sapphire, extensively analyzed and researched by Dr Çiğdem Lüle, has many repeated grooves cut into its free-form cabochon shape. Comparison with other patterned sapphires suggests a cutting date between the 13th and 15th centuries.

American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) / Stuart Robertson and Dr Çigdem Lüle

How did writing Sapphire differ in any way from writing the other two books?

“As Gemfields does not yet have a sapphire deposit, I never anticipated being asked to write a book on sapphires, but Sean Gilberston always had the vision of completing the trilogy, so in 2019 I embarked on Sapphire.

Little did the world know what would happen in 2020 and the pandemic has made writing Sapphire a very different experience. Usually, as part of my research, I visit various gem deposits. Luckily, I managed to get to Madagascar and back just before the UK lockdown. Looking back now, I keep saying how fortunate I was to have travelled to Madagascar, such a beautiful country and, of course, a very important country for sapphires.

With everyone stuck in their homes and unable to travel, people were in fact more accessible and amenable to being interviewed over the phone and Zoom. The generosity and support people in the industry have shown me while writing Sapphire has been immense – I just cannot wait to meet many of the contributors in person!” 

Courtesy of Belperron, LLC / Private collection. A “bib” necklace, 1940s, of cabochon sapphires interspersed with brilliant-cut diamonds by Suzanne Belperron, made by Groëné et Darde for Herz-Belperron. To achieve the effortless appearance of the color blends, Belperron is rumored to have tipped the sapphires onto a table and then carefully plotted them on the design.

Cabochon cut blue sapphire and diamond necklace designed by Suzanne Belperron

This impressive crown of Blanche of Lancaster (1392-1409), part of her dowry when she married Louis III, Elector Palatine of the Rhine from the House of Wittelsbach of Bavaria, and supposedly made c. 1380 for Anne of Bohemia (1366-1394), Queen of England. Its tall gold fleurons are set with blue and pink sapphires, plus pearls and other smaller gemstones

An impressive crown of Blanche of Lancaster (1392-1409), part of her dowry when she married Louis ... [+] III, Elector Palatine of the Rhine from the House of Wittelsbach of Bavaria.

What the chapters in the book that are most compelling for the jewelry enthusiast and collector and for you as the author?  

“Each book has been special, and each gem has had its own unique story to tell. The chapters of Sapphire that I especially enjoyed writing were ‘Medicine & Magic’, ‘Profiles & Portraits’, ‘The Art of Collecting’ and ‘Sapphire Discoveries’ because they are so different from the chapters in Emerald and Ruby.”

A transformable headband/ collier de chien, c. 1921, by maker Michel Ballada for Chaumet, and set with seven oval cabochon Ceylon sapphires, graduating in size—the largest weighing 47.34 carats—along three diamond-set lines and within crescent-shaped surrounds. An 8.20-carat sugarloaf sapphire decorates the clasp.

Private collection / Courtesy of Albion Art Jewellery Institute, Japan

A transformable headband/ collier de chien, c. 1921, by maker Michel Ballada for Chaumet

What are two or three aspects of sapphires that you found out while writing the book that surprised and or enchanted you?

“Every gem has its talismanic associations, but I was particularly struck by how much sapphire was used throughout the medieval period to align earthly mortals with the heavens and divine powers. The indulgence of being able to write about a single gem species allowed me to discover properties and stories that may have gone unnoticed.”

A Ballerina clip, by Van Cleef & Arpels New York, c. 1951, with a large mixed-cut sapphire bodice and a swirling skirt of diamonds.

Private collection / Courtesy of Albion Art Jewellery Institute, Japan

A Ballerina clip, by Van Cleef & Arpels New York, c. 1951

What are you favorite aspects about sapphires?

“Sapphires are about the personal touch: bishops’ rings were set with sapphires so that the light from the heavens would go through the stone, transmitting truth from the divine powers into the human body, enabling the bishops to live a true life. In Hindu astrology, blue sapphire is associated with the challenging planet Saturn, therefore blue sapphires are worn with great caution and only after being guided by an astrologer.

Sapphire is a gem that has touched many people due to its accessibility – it has been mined in Sri Lanka for more than 2500 years – and its generally large crystal sizes, which have allowed it to be carved into cameos and intaglios, as seen in the ‘Profiles & Portraits’ chapter. These carvings are windows into a metaphysical world where beliefs in myths and legends would, through the carvings, be easily conveyed when the written word was understood by relatively few.”

Was there any people or places that were specifically inspirational while you were researching and writing the book?

“A chapter I really enjoyed compiling was ‘The Art of Collecting’ as I was able to talk with collectors who were passionate about their jewels; to hear how and why they collect was fascinating and a real privilege. Sometimes a fabulous jewel will become available on the open market and then it disappears again, so it was such a thrill when I rediscovered jewels in these collections that I had first seen many years ago. The collectors have been incredibly generous in sharing their stories with me and I found that people were keen to talk about items of beauty during a world pandemic, as the craftsmanship and beauty of these jewels were especially highlighted by the challenges and difficulties that surrounded everyone at the time.

Front view of the Middleham Jewel, a gold pendant locket made around 1450- 1475, inscribed and engraved with scenes from the Crucifixion and set with a sapphire bead.

© York Museums Trust (Yorkshire Museum, YORYM: 1991.43)

Front view of the Middleham Jewel, a gold pendant locket made around 1450- 1475.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking with jeweler and gem cutter Mark Nuell and his mother Shirley about their time mining for sapphires in the outback of Australia in the 1970s and hearing gem dealer Salih Maricar’s stories about his grandfather traveling from Ceylon to Chicago in the 1950s with, at the time, the largest star sapphire ever found.”

Anything else that would give some insight how you felt when you finished writing Sapphire?

“There is no other colored gemstone that comes in such an array of colors and its color together with its hardness, being second only to diamond, make cut sapphires have a lustre and brilliance unlike any other gem.

Though sapphire carries different meanings around the world, it is always considered a powerful stone and has touched the souls of many people. It has been a stone that I had underestimated and overlooked, but after having immersed myself in the colorful world of sapphires I now can admit that sapphires are my favorite gemstone, and they are to be ignored at one’s peril.”

Bina Goenka’s Ikebana cuff, 2020, depicting a blossoming branch that twists around the wrist, set ... [+] with colored diamonds, pearls, conch pearls, emeralds, and flowers of 22.16 carats of sapphires of every color.