In her most recent book, writer Juliet Weir De La Rochefoucauld deftly showcases her comprehensive knowledge of the history of jewelry design, and her appreciation for creativity and innovation, all while celebrating women jewelry designers. In Women Jewellery Designers, which was published in August of this year, Juliet highlights the significance of women driving the creative process within the larger context of world events and the zeitgeist of the times. Whether WWI or WWII, or advancements in technology and the rise of consumerism, Juliet brings the work of these 49 women to life by painting a vivid backdrop to their day-to-day lives, their challenges, inspirations and philosophies.
I was so excited to be able to attend a presentation by Juliet last week in New York. Sponsored by the American Society of Jewelry Historians and hosted at Bonhams, the packed house got a little behind-the-scenes insight into Juliet’s perspective. While the book itself is broken down into three parts–Between the Wars: The Awakening, Post-war to 1980’s: Full Steam Ahead–the Search for the Perfect Design, and What is Happening Now in the Field of Jewellery Design–Juliet’s presentation was broken down into five distinct areas. She focused on Insights/Influence, Experimentation, Precision/Craftsmanship and Exhibitions, noting specifically how instrumental exhibitions were to increasing awareness of an artist’s work.
Over coffee a couple of days later, Juliet explained to me that she is often questioned about why she included the designers she did as opposed to others. She told me it was extremely difficult making the decisions she did, and that she sometimes had to remove her personal preferences from the equation in order to stay true to the initial mission of the book. She contends that all of the women included in this impressive tome were those that broke boundaries in their specific area of design, “And that’s what makes a successful jewelry designer, isn’t it? Really going after your own ideas!”
In reflecting on the talented pool of designers we are privileged to work with at COUTURE (men and women alike!), we’d have to agree with Juliet’s definition of a successful jewelry designer! And after having a chance to meet with Juliet in person and taking my time pouring over the gorgeous pages of her latest book, I can also agree that this book would be an incredible holiday gift for anyone who is passionate about fine jewelry and the history of design.