The role of jewellery in society is a central theme of Emerald: Twenty-One Centuries of Jewelled Opulence and Power (£75), a behemoth of a new tome dedicated to chronicling the world’s most precious green gemstone. Written by Joanna Hardy, Hettie Judah and Jonathan Self, with a preface by Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani, it is divided into three sections, the second of which is curated by jewellery historian Hardy, who examines the history and power of emerald jewellery over a 5,000-year span.
Page after glossy page is filled with emeralds from the likes of Bulgari, Boucheron and Cartier, worn by film stars, models and royals. When asked about her choice of imagery, Hardy said: “I wanted to try to get the message across about how important a role jewellery has played in history, by not divorcing it from its social context. Each era is interlinked by social events, and the common theme that crossed all boundaries seemed to be jewellery.”
In a fascinating section devoted to contemporary jewellers, Hardy shows how emeralds are being used today. Sevan Biçaçki and Hemmerle, for example, “both display confidence in using emeralds unconventionally” – Biçaçki by producing an emerald reverse intaglio, and Hemmerle by juxtaposing emeralds alongside other green stones such as tsavorites and setting them in patinated bronze. It is this band of contemporary jewellers, adds Hardy, that “are playing a huge role in inspiring the next generation of goldsmiths and designers”.
With its rich, emerald silk cover and gold-foil blocking, Emerald is one of the season’s most covetable coffee-table additions. But if it is sparkling presents you are after, the jewels presented inside might themselves provide inspiration. Shaun Leane’s Sabre earrings (£18,400, second picture), featuring 5.93cts of Gemfields emeralds, Fabergé’s Emotion Ring (which boasts 300 gems, £25,914, third picture) and Michelle Ong’s Emerald Delight ring (price on request, fourth picture) are just the baubles to brighten up that special someone’s Christmas morning.