“One of the first things I do when I look at an antique piece of jewelry is smell the box,” said David Bennett, former global president of Sotheby’s jewelry division. “You can sometimes smell the glue when it’s not really old. Or run your fingers over the setting – it gives you a huge amount of information about the part.
“You can only teach people by handling jewelry,” he added.
Yet Mr Bennett and his longtime collaborator Daniela Mascetti, the former president of Sotheby’s jewelry division in Europe, realize that the best way to educate jewelry lovers around 2021 is online. So, last month, they introduced Understanding-Jewellery.com, a jewelry education and experiences platform that includes a website with a mix of free and subscription content.
The site takes its name from “Understanding Jewelery,” a reference work, now in its third edition, that Mr. Bennett and Ms. Mascetti wrote in 1989. (A new volume, “Understanding Twentieth Century Jewelery,” is due out in September .)
Open to all are the site’s introductions to the chapters on jewelry from 1900 to 1920 and on diamonds; the News and Events section, with videos of Mr. Bennett and Ms. Mascetti discussing extraordinary gems; the Discover & Collect section, where they riff on jewelry for sale; and Experiences, which lists their online courses, museum visits, and international jewelry tours.
“We are offering a visit to Jaipur at the end of next year which will include visits to various palaces and stonemasons,” Bennett said. “We are trying to open the treasure box and instill a sense of wonder in the jewelry.”
Subscriptions to the site are 70 Swiss francs ($ 76) per year and open 12 chapters devoted to gemstones, from aquamarine to zircon, and 10 chapters on major jewelry periods between 1750 and 2000, highlighting the evolution of jewelry shapes from tiaras to brooches. .
Over 1,000 images on the site include many special jewelry, such as a Neo-Egyptian style necklace and brooch made of gold, soapstone, scarab earthenware, and micromosaic, circa 1860, by Roman jeweler Fortunato Pio Castellani; a carved colored stone bracelet from the Deco era by Cartier, designed in the Mughal style popularly known as Tutti Frutti; and a 1960s gold and mineral necklace from avant-garde London jeweler Andrew Grima.
Mr. Bennett and Ms. Mascetti offer personal services such as appraisals, collection management and gemstone sourcing, but they designed the online platform as a widely accessible source of information on antique jewelry and vintage on the market.
“What we’ve noticed over the past five years and even more during the lockdown: It’s amazing how people buy and can buy important jewelry on the internet without seeing it,” Bennett said. “What was missing was where could you go to get an opinion on something that is not from the person selling it?” We want to provide this service.