Jewellery @ Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

An opulent ring on display
The Musée des Arts Decoratifs is surely the best one-stop shop in Paris for the fashion and design fan where exhibitions are concerned. I have seen Hussein Chayalan, Sonia Rykiel and a 1990s & 2000s Fashion retrospective there, as educational as they were breathtakingly fabulous.

This time, when I rocked up with my friend Sylvain, they were showing their jewellery collection, featuring gems going right back to the Middle Ages, including some gothic skulls and religious references. The progression of jewellery design is subtle and interesting. Told from a French perspective, there were pieces from when Napoleon invaded Egypt and Europe was swept with a "Egyptomania" trend craze and led to the building of "Cleopatra's Needle" at Place de La Concorde.

There was a gorgeous hair piece featuring bees made from diamonds, proving bling wasn't a modern invention, but things really hotted up in the Art Nouveau era when materials other than precious metals came to the fore. The brooch featuring a woman playing a harp was surely inspired by the Celtic tendencies, an owl hair-pin that is strangely contemporary and pretty Oriental inspired pieces; I loved all the hairpins and tie pins that no longer feature as part of our wardrobes.

A central display of perspex cubes showed the various materials commonly used in jewellery creation; each vertical column featured a dictionary definition and examples of its use. Use of plastic denies style demands expense and I also love the coral, glass and leather. 

Another reference to the French past glories; Berlin Iron Jewellery. Apparently, it had been made for mourning jewellery for its dark hue, but during the Napoleonic occupation, wealthy citizens traded precious items for the same in cast iron bearing the inscription "Gold gab ich für Eisen" meaning "I gave gold for iron", thus conferring the otherwise drab accessories with the bright shine of patriotic zeal. 

Continuing into the twentieth century, highlights included perspex knuckledusters, Albert Duraz's punky silver necklace and the emu eggshell necklace by Gilles Jonemann, an artist who made precious pieces from natural resources. In 1989, the Musée dedicated an exhibition to Jonemann's work, in much the same way that Marc Jacobs will enjoy in March this year for his work at the helm of Louis Vuitton. 

Wendy Ramshaw's seven piece Transformer ring, inspired by the aesthetics of Anglo-Saxon Britons, stood out for all its deceptively futuristic qualities. The sheer experimentalism of the twentieth century was so inspiring and cool. Also on display; modern masterpieces from the huge houses; the Gwendoline ring by Victoire de Castellane at Dior Joallerie, flowery numbers by Cleef Van Arpels and Bulgari pieces. 

Egyptian Jewellery from colonial times
Hairpiece featuring bees made of diamonds. What's not to love?
Floral Japanese inspired bits in blue

Oh so Irish, non?
Twit twoo!
Central display featuring materials used to create jewellery
Fantastic plastic
Fruit brooches in glass beads

Wendy Ramshaw's "Transforner" - seven rings in one

Good clean fun
Silver Necklace by Albert Duraz
Emu eggshell necklace by Gilles Jonemann
More bees please - the "Gwendoline" ring by Dior

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