TIARAS: A History of Splendour 1800–2000

Geoffrey C Munn, Author, Goffrey C Munn, Author . Antique Collectors' Club $75 (432p) ISBN 1-85149-375-1

Even those who think of tiaras as stuffy and faintly comic things will have to revise their opinions after perusing this lavish and beautifully illustrated new study, published to accompany this spring's potential blockbuster at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Munn (The Triumph of Love: Jewelry 1530–1930) is managing director of Wartski Ltd., a London antiques gallery selling European precious metalwork, and appears as a jewelry specialist on BBC-TV's Antiques Roadshow. His text is perfectly balanced between sober art historical chops (as when discussing three tiaras designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria) and giddy appreciation (discussing a tiara made for drag comedienne Dame Edna Everage). Among the 350 color and 100 b&w illustrations are works by the great French designers Cartier, Boucheron and Fabergé, along with Lalique, Fouquet and (American) Tiffany, all dealt with succinctly and in highly readable style. There are bizarre items, like a dog-bone tiara, a sheep-pelvis tiara set with rhinestones by couturier Dai Rees and a tiara carved from a cow's horn in the form of elderberries, decorated with moonstone dewdrops, from around 1900. There are also pieces from today's collectors, including Vivienne Westwood, Elton John and Madonna, and work from outlandish designers such as Galliano and Versace. "Amazement and pleasure" are Munn's stated goals in bringing this feast of tiaras to our attention, and he has succeeded handsomely. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 12/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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