“Warman’s Jewelry, Fine & Costume Jewelry, Identification & Price Guide, 4th Edition,” Kathy Flood, Krause Publications, 2010, $29.99. ISBN: 1-4402-0801-8. Available at shop.collect.com.
In the introduction to “Warman’s Jewelry,” Kathy Flood issues a word of warning straight away: “This book is dangerous. … Something in it will seduce you.”
I have to agree; I found myself spending hours perusing the vibrantly illustrated fourth edition of “Warman’s Jewelry” and wondering where the time went. It’s a book that is full of interesting anecdotes, is informative and fun.
Flood picks up the literary torch, so to speak, after the jewelry world lost Christie Romero, who wrote the first three editions of “Warman’s Jewelry,” in September 2009. Flood shares her sheer delight in jewelry, both fine and costume in this new edition, which is unlike the previous editions. She’s very open with her jewelry interests, and pours herself into the pages of the introduction. In a conversational tone, she shares her personal history with jewelry and the path her life has taken. It’s a comfortable read, much like hearing from an old friend.
Her own initial reasons for choosing a book and being happy with it are based on entertainment, enlightenment, edification and enrichment. These are the things she wished to accomplish with her own book. Before writing the book, Flood kept hearing one thing: “Don’t do just another picture book – readers want information they can use.”
It was a message she took seriously.
Something new and different in the 4th edition of Warman’s Jewelry is the Chapter Previews section, which has a one-page introduction for each of the book’s chapters … a tempting taste of what’s to come.
“Warman’s Jewelry” is a feast for the eyes as it offers 18 chapters boasting 1,000 full-color, detailed images of exquisite jewelry of all types, from costume jewelry with exceptional design to fine jewelry made with the priciest of gems. It also lists the jewelry’s values and provides a wealth of information on how you spot the “good stuff,” such as telling real pearls from fakes and those details that signify quality pieces worthy of your investment.
Each chapter includes in-depth discussions of jewelry according to materials used, design and period. Chapter subjects are chosen because they’re key categories and because they’re desirable. Some of the popular chapter titles include Pearls, Cameos, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Figurals, Couture, and more.
To offer perspectives other than her own, Flood includes in-depth interviews with other jewelry specialists, such as 30-year veteran jewelry designer Eve Alfille, who founded the Pearl Society, and Marbeth Schon, who produces the Internet publication Modern Silver Magazine and has written two books on Modernist jewelry.
In chapter 5, Art Nouveau, Flood interviews Jared Goss, who is Associate Curator, Department of 19th Century, Modern and Contemporary Art, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In responding to the assessment some have made that Art Nouveau jewelry is “overwrought” and “backward-looking,” he says, “The finest examples [of Art Nouveau jewelry] show incredible creativity in design and innovative use of materials (including many that had never been used for jewelry before that time, foreshadowing a trend in much later modern jewelry).” Rene Lalique is one jewelry artist who used new materials in jewelry design; he used glass for precious jewels, believing the “beauty of a jewel depended on its artistic conception rather than the intrinsic value of its materials.”
The same can be said of the appreciation of costume jewelry, which may not be priceless, but still can be pricey and worthy of investment.
This book provides those “ah-hah” moments, the satisfaction, and the chance to take away something that you didn’t have before – including the information you need to purchase jewelry for investment purposes. For example, how do you tell a so-so cameo from one that has some extra “little things” going for it that make it worth a bit more? Flood shares what these little bonuses are and why they’re important.
If you’ve got a previous edition of the “Warman’s Jewelry, Identification & Price Guide,” the last of which was published in 2002, you’ll want to add this new 4th edition to your jewelry library. Looking more like a coffee-table book and less like a traditional price guide (but still packed full of identification and value information), Kathy Flood has filled this new edition with new data, expert interviews, and so much more.
Appendices include a glossary, a list of Internet resources, and a detailed bibliography, which is a good thing, because once you fall for the seduction, you may have an insatiable desire to learn more about personal adornments both old and contemporary.
Though “Warman’s Jewelry” is beautiful as it is, with a soft cover, I would love to see this book released in a hardcover format. Perhaps 10 years down the road the jewelry values might be outdated, but the period data, interviews, gemstone data and so on will remain timeless – just as many of the jewelry designs themselves will be. ?
MORE RESOURCES FOR ANTIQUES ENTHUSIASTS
You may also enjoy Kathy Flood’s first column for Antique Trader: "Making friends of our faux pas"