One of the current exhibits running at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is "Jewels, Gems and Treasures — Ancient to Modern". It examines the notion that what we now consider gems, such as diamonds and rubies, is much too limited when looking at a broader world view. Many other items, whether seen as having protective value or simply as being rare, have been treasured across the centuries. Frequently, traditional gems were mixed in with less precious items, with the resulting fabrication an object of incredible beauty. Here are some of the amazing pieces I saw this week:
Apologies for this blurry picture, but this suite of hummingbird jewels was made of, yes, real hummingbirds. Victorian excess at its most sublime.
Ancient pieces included rock crystal and enamel work alongside gems.
This beautiful 19th century Chinese headdress incorporated gilt metal, kingfisher feathers, silk, glass and bone along with a host of semi-precious stones.
This 17th century German rosary featured amber, believed at the time to have magical properties. Interesting choice for a Catholic I should think.
Beautiful jewelry in every color of the rainbow:
A Faberge bulldog, made of agate and semi-precious stones, in memory of a beloved pet. Wow.
Enamel in combination with moonstones and pearls, simply remarkable.
A platinum, diamond and carved emerald brooch from 1928, owned and worn by Marjorie Meriweather Post at her presentation to the Court of St. James. The central stone, carved in India, dates from the 17th century. 'Exquisite' barely covers this piece.
Finally, a brooch and cuff bracelet with less refinement of the stones, but certainly plenty of character in the finished pieces.
There are many more wonderous examples to see in this exhibit. I encourage you to attend if you can; the show runs through November 25.