Welcome to The Life of Jewels!

‘Jewellery is worn because of its use as a historic and social convention (witness the engagement ring and wedding ring), it is worn for joy and it is worn for vanity. It is bought as a sacred rite, it is bought as a social and domestic duty, it is bought under compulsion, it is bought as a bribe and it is bought in a delirium’ said the Goldsmiths Journal in 1926. 

Welcome to my site ‘The life of jewels’! I fell in love with jewellery during twenty years working as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It gave me the chance to work on major gallery projects, write books and articles  and handle amazing works of art. It also led me to think about the deeper relevance of jewellery, perhaps one of the world’s oldest art forms. From the dazzling jewels of royalty to the everyday gold wedding ring, jewellery carries so many meanings. 

In this site, I want to look at the hidden history of jewellery, the touching, surprising and sometimes downright weird objects which have touched people’s lives. But, jewellery is far from a dead art – jewels reappear through auctions and exhibitions, they are the mainstay of the red carpet and many contemporary jewellers create fantastic works of art and use their practice to look at themselves and at the world. 

I also want to help you to learn about jewellery – where are the best collections? What books should you read? What are the courses and talks to join? What jobs can you do which involve jewellery? What does the jewellery you wear in your own life mean and why is it so important?

I lecture and write about jewellery regularly – if you are interested in a talk or article on jewellery, please get in touch.

My books and articles

What do you want to know about?

If you want to read about the weirder side of jewellery, try this post or this one.

If you’re interested in jewellery and sentiment, try this post or this one.

If you want to learn more about jewellery and its history, this page suggests some online resources and places to find talks and information. I’ve also put together some book recommendations on rings and on brooches.

My publications and lectures

I’ve written about various aspects of jewellery history, available here.

I lecture regularly on all aspect of jewellery history.