Aaron Faber Gallery is committed to providing a voice to new artists in metal and showcasing the ever-changing work of established studio jewelry artists. We are inspired by educating new collectors as well as assisting established collectors to develop their expertise.
IN THE GALLERY
Aaron Faber Gallery is inspired by educating new collectors as well as assisting established collectors to develop their expertise. To that end, I thought to share our own journey and recommend books and publications that have shaped us along the way. These are some of our favorites in our library. – Patricia Kiley Faber
Aaron Faber Gallery has been focusing on artist-made jewelry in precious metal since 1974, which has given us the opportunity to develop a diverse and far-flung collection of jewels-- and of the books I rely on for information and visual pleasure. The gallery’s retail space at 666 Fifth Avenue grew and changed over those 42 years, from a gallery solely for artist-made contemporary jewelry, to include my partner Edward Faber’s vintage watch department, to an east wall filled with estate jewelry from the 20th and 21st centuries. To be a jewelry aficionado is to know that there is an infinite field of inquiry and beauty and only time and resources create the boundaries that keep us (somewhat) focused on specific areas or time periods. So the gallery’s collection has expanded over four decades to keep pace with our own curiosity as well as our clients’ and collectors’ interests.
The 20th century history of studio jewelry is covered in many books, but Janet Koplos and Bruce Metcalf’s textbook on American made crafts, “Makers: A History of American Studio Craft” (2010, The Center for Creativity and Design, Inc.) is a superb primer on the makers who have most influenced this field from the late 1800’s to the late 1900’s. The book covers not only jewelry and metal arts during this period, but also ceramics, glass, and textiles. You can enjoy learning about all of these fields, or dip in and out, or focus only on jewelry, depending on your interest. The go-to book to understand how these jewels were made by the studio artists remains Oppi Untracht’s “Jewelry Concepts and Technology” (multiple editions, 1982 and 2011, Knopf Doubleday Publishing), the original Bible of the studio jewelry movement and still relevant today. Granulation? Mokume-gane? Basse-taille enamel? It’s in Oppi’s book, with illustrations of how to do it as well as clear text explaining what it is.
To capture the spirit of the movement, of the revolutionary works that kicked off the contemporary artist-makers that Aaron Faber features, I love Graham Hughes’s out of print “Modern Jewelry: An International Survey” (Studio Vista, 1968). And since I consider Margaret De Patta (1904-1964) the mother of modernist jewelry, “Space Light Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta’, by Ursula Ilse-Neuman and Julie M. Muniz, covers not only De Patta’s importance but the design philosophies that gave rise to Modernism. It was recently published to coincide with an exhibition of De Patta’s jewelry and is in depth and well-illustrated. Another excellent book coinciding with a museum exhibition is Kelly L’Ecuyer’s “Jewelry by Artists In the Studio, 1940-2000” (2010, MFA Publications) inspired by the Daphne Farrago collection at the MFA Boston but including L’Ecuyer’s scholarly and elegantly written essays providing an overview of the studio jewelry movement.
Wristwatches—the second focus of the gallery --are not my specialty, but I catalog many of them and rely on the internet and a number of printed references. The Bibles for vintage watches are a series of printed vintage price guides by Ehrhardt and DeMesy, each one illustrating black and white images of American and Swiss watches from 1900 to 1990, with dates of manufacture, dimensions and (now very out of date) price guides for dealers. Not all the information is accurate, given the great amount of new research since they were compiled, but they are still remarkably comprehensive. There’s also Edward Faber’s definitive book on American wristwatch design, “American Wristwatches: ‘Five Decades of Style and Design” in its third printing (Schiffer), with production data from major American makers as well as many illustrated examples. John Reardon’s series of ‘Patek Philippe in America’ books are visually perfect on the coffee table but also a useful reference. Each one – there are three – is composed of original advertising images used by Swiss watch maker Patek Philippe from 1900 to the 1990’s, identifying the reference and dates of each, important since, while there is a great deal of information about watches on the internet, there is also a great deal of mis-information and Reardon’s books are primary research material.
Further north on the gallery’s east wall is our collection of estate jewelry, principally 1940’s to present, but including earlier pieces, like Art Nouveau Newark School jewelry – jump to Ulysses Dietz’s “The Glitter and the Gold: Fashioning America’s Jewelry” (Ulysses Dietz and Janet Zapata, 1997, Newark Museum)– and early Georg Jensen sterling silver jewels – pull out Janet Drucker’s “Georg Jensen: A Tradition of Splendid Silver” (Schiffer, 2007). Drucker’s is a comprehensive reference on Jensen’s production from start (1904) through the 1980’s while Dietz includes hallmark references as well as fabulous images of American Art Nouveau jewels. Speaking of hallmarks, I too am always referring to “World Hallmarks: Europe 19th to 21st Centuries” (Whetstone, Niklewicz, Matula; Hallmark Research Institute, 2010) for its superbly organized and exhaustive hallmark references for these periods.
Jewelry from the next two decades, 1930’s and 1940’s, are well served by Sylvie Raulet’s two books, ‘Art Deco” (1989, Rizzoli) and, my favorite of the two, since the gallery focuses more on Retro-Modern period jewelry, “Jewelry of the 1940’s and 1950’s” (1988, Rizzoli). Raulet’s research, original renderings and archival material, as well as the sumptuous photographs in the large 10” x 13” coffee-table book format make both these books worth the investment and books to return to year after year.
Heading into the 1950’s and 60’s, “Messengers of Modernism: American Studio Jewelry 1940-1960” (Martin Eidelberg (editor), Toni Greenbaum (collaborator), 1996) remains essential to visually capturing the streamlined Modernist jewelry that revolutionized jewelry in the post-World War II era and began the studio jewelry movement. Which is where the gallery started, with studio jewelry in 1974, and where this list began!