One Christmas Eve, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan gave his wife, Princess Catherine, an exquisite jeweled box made by Cartier in the 1920s, thus starting the most magnificent collection of objects created in the Art Deco era by jewelers, at a time when the jeweler’s art was at the height of beauty and creativity.
In the 1920s, rapid changes in society and technology were rejected in art through striking contrasts of line, color, and material. The innovative luxuries in this book—breathtaking bejeweled vanity and cigarette cases, timepieces, jewelry, and a photograph frame—take their inspiration from varied sources, including the natural world, exotic locations, and industrial design. Chinese dragons, Persian birds, and Japanese plum blossoms appear on boxes created with an explosion of colored gemstones and enamel juxtaposed with boxes in black, white, and gold stripped of excessive ornamentation. The exuberance of the boldest pieces contrasts with the starkly elegant machine-inspired designs, but both are equally considered and iconic of this era of excitement, change, and creativity.
Smoky nightclubs, with flappers drinking cocktails, and exotically decorated apartments, resplendent for chic dinner parties, provided a new landscape for the designs of the great jewelry houses of Europe and America, with Paris as the undisputed center. In Jeweled Splendors of the Art Deco Era, published to coincide with an exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Museum, New York., expert authors explore the development of this new artistic world by considering the exotic influences of the important jewelers—including Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Boucheron, Lacloche Freres, and, above all, Cartier—as well as the process of design and making, and the impact of changing femininity. Well over 100 pieces are accompanied by detailed descriptions and were specially photographed for this publication by the renowned photographer Doug Rosa. This collection from the most important period in the history of jewelry and the decorative arts is unsurpassed in quality and is beautifully shown here with a wealth of context and detail.
An elegant offering filled with jeweled works beyond compare… This entire book is a feast for the eyes with images of intricate inlay, bright colors, and inventive design. Photographer Doug Rosa does a magnificent job of presenting some gorgeous vanity cases, cigarette cases, and miscellaneous objects from the 1920s and 1930s…art deco period.
— Library Journal
Virtually impossible to put down. A ‘feast for the eyes’…for any art collector or connoisseur of the jeweler’s art. The works pictured are breathtaking in their craftsmanship, their ingenuity, and their astonishing use of color. Each image is clear and crisp, as if you could touch the object. This is a book to return to again and again, a book to treasure. It is a deeply satisfying opportunity to examine, close up, a noteworthy collection.
— Gems & Gemology
Catherine Aga Khan
Princess Catherine Aga Khan, together with her late husband Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, amassed one of the finest private collections of art in the world.
Pierre Rainero is image, style, and heritage director of Cartier.
Évelyn Possémé is chief curator at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and antique and modern jewelry department.
Stephen Harrison is curator of decorative arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Sarah D. Coffin
Sarah D. Coffin is curator and head of product design and decorative arts at Cooper Hewitt, New York.
Sarah Davis is a specialist in jewelry history and editor for the American Society of Jewelry Historians.