This month I’m bringing you into my studio – and into my library, specifically. I have been obsessed with jewelry and gemstones since I was a little girl. So, I was always requesting books on the subject for every gift-giving occasion. And of course, I can’t resist buying a book when I see one on a topic that piques my interest. Consequently, I’ve built up quite an athenaeum full of a wide range of subjects that I am constantly referencing.
A few of my favorite books on the shelf:
- The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, an out-of-print book that traces the history of gems and the lore of their powers through time.
- Making Marvels from an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art exploring extraordinary, elaborate technological innovations collected by wealthy families between 1550 and 1750.
- Masterpieces of the Mineral World from the Houston Museum of Natural History that has one of the most incredible collections of gem specimens – worth a trip to Houston for this alone!
- Dali Jewels, a book on surrealist creations by Dali, because I always like a bit of whimsy, absurdity and humor. His work reminds me not to take myself so seriously.
While the internet or Instagram is great for a quick visual fix, I am still partial to the physical feeling of a book in my hands. I love the glossy pages, the close-up imagery, the stories, the adventure…Each book presents an experience without having to go farther than my living room. I could dive into gem hunting and mining manuals, and dream of jumping in a car with a pickaxe to go discover my own stones around the world. Or, I could thumb through specimen books to blow my mind with stones in all sorts of crazy colors and formations. I can read novels about famous stones and people in jewelry, like the blue Hope Diamond and it’s dramatic, “tragic” trajectory. I may learn historical tales on subjects like the jewelry industry in Newark, New Jersey or on how precious stones were used over centuries for their “powers.” Conversely, and perhaps best of all, I could open a large, photographic book on a designer, creator or museum exhibition I have visited.
The world's oldest known library, The Library of Ashurbanipal, was founded sometime in the 7th century B.C. for the “royal contemplation” of the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal. As libraries evolved and expanded, they began first with efforts to organize collections of mostly religious documents, but soon came to include astronomy, mathematics, etc. The library became a gateway to knowledge and culture for society, helping to shape new ideas and perspectives that were central to a creative and innovative society.
And so, too, is my own personal library. If I get creator’s block, I go to my shelves to browse and read, to help spark inspiration from an image or a narrative. It is my space for contemplation when I need a break from being in my own design head. One instance of creator’s block led me to strumming the pages of a book on Cartier. Simply being able to see how Cartier used different materials for various projects and in distinct color-ways was enlightening and mind opening. Their designs were encouraging and reminding me to be bold and take risks, to think outside "my normal box". What emerged was the bold Aqua/Black No. 2 necklace with a contrast of hues – ethereal aqua against strong black. A mix of smooth in opposition to rough; square countering round. I love that this piece is so completely my own, but influenced by such a classic and revered design house.
My library is a documentation of me and my life. Each book on the shelf shows my journey through the jewelry world – the things I was interested in at one time and how my interests have grown or evolved over time. As a visual person, books (and especially those with lots of images) are important to me because I absorb so much through them. I know that my brain is sponging up content whether I am aware of it or not. Tidbits of information are being stored away, all to be translated into a jewelry design down the road.
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