11 April 2017

Book Review: Hidden Gems (2016)

Hidden Gems: Jewellery Stories from the Saleroom (Photo: The Court Jeweller)

Late last year, I reviewed Vincent Meylan's latest book, which focused on Christie's sale archives in their 250th anniversary year. This week, I got my hands on another book produced to mark that anniversary, Hidden Gems: Jewellery Stories from the Saleroom. The book is a fascinating look at the inner workings of historic jewelry sales from two people who have experienced it firsthand.

A peek at a chapter on Russian jewels (Photo: The Court Jeweller)

Hidden Gems was written by Sarah Hue-Williams and Raymond Sancroft-Baker, who worked together at Christie's. The firsthand knowledge that the pair bring to the book makes the text feel immediate and warm. They call the piece a "jewellery storybook," which is an excellent description of the tome's tone. Hue-Williams and Sancroft-Baker recall numerous moments of surprise and astonishment during their work at the auction house, especially when clients would produce incredible pieces of jewelry that had been hidden away for years. The tales they tell will undoubtedly be the envy of every jewel lover who cracks open the book.

A peek at a section of jewels of the former Begum Aga Khan (Photo: The Court Jeweller)

The text is divided into short, thematic chapters. Some focus on individual jewelers or collectors, while others center on specific types of gems or individual sales. Readers of this blog will particularly enjoy the sections on the Duke of Manchester's tiara sale, Marie Antoinette's rubies, the emeralds that were part of the French crown jewel collection, and Princess Margaret's modern jewelry. The book features a foreward by the Earl of Snowdon (then Viscount Linley), who worked closely with the jewelry department at Christie's during the sale of his mother's jewels.

Hidden Gems: Jewellery Stories from the Saleroom (Photo: The Court Jeweller)

The book is a little bit smaller than many coffee-table jewel books, but it's just as packed with interesting content and beautiful pictures as any of my larger books. Even so, the production is similar in quality to some of the largest, most expensive jewelry books in my library. It's also a bit more affordable than many royal jewel books, retailing right now on Amazon for under $50. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest, casual or serious, in royal and historical jewelry.

Note: I purchased this book using revenue that I received from the Amazon affiliate links on this site. I put all money that I receive from these affiliate links back into materials for review on the blog, so if you want to read more reviews, consider purchasing items through the links on this site. Thanks, everybody!