cover image Earrings


Daniela Mascetti, Rizzoli. Rizzoli International Publications, $50 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1230-1

The styles and value of earrings, whether shaped like starbursts, beetles or baskets, may have changed since this accessory's beginnings in 3000 B.C. But what has remained constant is the willingness of women to subject themselves, for the sake of fashion, to the painful piercing of their lobes. Indeed, this initiatory rite proclaims, for many, passage into womanhood. The history of the ornaments fabricated to hug or hang, sometimes with great weight, is here related scrupulously and somewhat repetitiously by two representatives of Sotheby's London jewelry division. Mascetti and Triossi's account, augmented by 600 illustrations--including sketches and sharply reproduced color and black-and-white photos--chronicles earring design from the basic hoop and disc of the Egyptians through the mini-chandelier-like girandoles and pendelogues popular from the 17th century on. Whether the raw materials were egg-size diamonds, matched pearls, gemstones, gold, silver or platinum, the skilled hands of master artisans like Fontenay and Lalique have earned their creations the respectful title of haute joaillerie82 . And with good reason, as this glittering book proves. (Jan.)