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LATEST in the excellent Starting to Collect well-priced series. On the increasingly popular subject of jewellery, books about which are on the increase in public popularity, this book thoroughly covers the subject, from cut steel to Cartier, pinchbeck to platinum, enamels, memento mori and mourning jewellery, ‘false diamonds,’ the paste jewellery from the 1750s to the 1930s, and Belle Epoque and “garland” jewellery.

John Benjamin started his career as an apprentice in Cameo Corner, an antique jewellers in Bloomsbury established in the 1920s by Mosheh Oved. Later he was International Director of Jewellery for Phillips and in 1999 he left the company to set up on his own as an independent jewellery consultant.

In the book’s introduction, the author comments that there are four principal differences between the jewellery of the 1970s and that of today. First is availability. In the ’70s Victorian gold, particularly low-carat pendants and bangles, was so abundant that it sold for scarcely more than scrap, while today a gold collar with a locket or a pair of revivalist teardrop earrings are scarce and expensive. Second, value. Whatever the item, be it a piece of Imperial jade or a Victorian sweetheart brooch, the price has shot up. Third, fashion. Much period jewellery has gone through several phases of reassessment. A few years ago post-war retro jewellery was difficult to sell and currently Victorian diamond flowersprays are in low demand. Fourth, knowledge, and that’s down to TV, books, auctions, catalogues and a general explosion in the antique jewellery market.

Each chapter comes with a further reading slot and there are plenty of photographs, many from Woolley and Wallis Auctioneers.