Updated: Sep 22
VANESSA CRON, JEWELLERY HISTORIAN & CREATOR OF RESEARCH JEWEL TELLS US ABOUT HER NEW PROJECT AND WHAT MOTIVATED HER TO SHARE YEARS OF RESEARCH WITH THE JEWELLERY WORLD.
Knowledge is power. Today more than ever, with such an abundance of information available in a split second through Google and Co. it seems the only way to make a difference is through over-specialised knowledge or skills. Make no mistake, this takes time, practice, experience, and intense dedication. Some would even say passion. Anyone can open a jewellery book and look at the photos, or they can read it. It’s a choice, and the knowledge resulting from this choice will make all the difference.
The COVID pandemic has revealed many experts to a broader audience, bringing many different categories of the jewellery world - which is so vast - to the limelight and I love it. I love to continue learning from each and every person, talking about subjects I may not have thought about. I love to know that we are a community with various specialised insights.
That’s also what The Glitterati is; a sisterhood of knowledge and know-how all over the world. Maybe you don’t realise it, but a community such as this is close to a superpower, one you can use every day - we should be so lucky!
When I started my journey in the jewellery world, I was far from thinking that what would interest me most would be to spend hours in research and archives. That’s my thing. I can’t help it. Provenance, history, archives, iconography, anything related to the life of a jewel before it was presented to this world fascinates me. But what became a borderline obsession was the identification. The investigation. All the questions behind the detective work.
Do you think this brooch is from the 1930's or 1950's?
Who is this maker’s mark for?
Can the address on the inside of this fitted case give us any clue on the date?
All of these questions can be answered, but they require some time-consuming research. Realising this is when I started compiling various types of information on the subject. Not that it wasn't available anywhere (I know a lot of jewellery specialists and dealers have a little notebook hidden away with scribbled marks and names next to them…) just that they were not all in one place with an easy-to-research database.
Sometimes... even the most seemingly official and available information is based on unverified information, or a misunderstanding, or just a typo!
So no, Frédéric Boucheron and Georges Le Saché never had a workshop together, they were not partners, even if Le Saché sometimes worked for Boucheron (how confusing, I know…).
The existing mark, for those who have never seen it, is in fact for ‘Baucheron & Le Saché’. Maybe it’s just a one-letter typo, but a significant one in this instance. It can lead to wrongfully attributed jewels or objects which is the last thing you want.
Discovering this whole world of hallmarks was a revelation for me. It soon became an obsession. These small marks, almost illegible to the naked eye, contain invaluable knowledge. With the help of a loupe they can reveal so many things!
After years of collecting information, I decided to create an online database to have all of these revelations at the tip of my fingers, readily available for the use of jewellery professionals. ResearchJewel has a few hundred marks already listed, soon to be thousands. Next up will be the assay marks.
Nothing can or will replace the jewellery expert’s eye. Their knowledge is so vast that it cannot rely on a single piece of information like a maker’s mark. They need to know about periods, design, manufacturing quality, gemstones and so much more, but the details from a maker’s mark is a crucial addition to the list of clues that will lead an expert to the complete understanding of a jewel. Today, full disclosure is a requirement. Nobody would think of not disclosing the origin determination of a gemstone given by a gemological laboratory, the same goes with a hallmark. The more you know and disclose, the more you build trust with your clients.
It goes without saying that there is no way a jewellery hallmark database could be exhaustive, it’s an ongoing process and only after the website was created did I realise to what extent the task would be a lifelong one. And so, the search continues. New information, new maker’s marks are entered weekly. I love to learn more each and every day and spend time knowing more about all the incredible jewellery workshops that have made the pieces we love so much. There's nothing more compelling than researching a mark I've never seen before, finding the information, and then making it available to the jewellery world. There’s still so much to unveil, so many facts to check. So many interesting workshops and jewellery houses to know more about. There are so many great people behind the sparkle! Research Jewel is my tribute to them all, we will honour them together by sharing what we know with our passionate clients.