What one word do you most associate with Victorian-ruled England? How about “hi-tech”? Well, that’s what the curators of the new jewelry gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London want you to imagine. The main concept behind the gallery is to illustrate the history of jewelry making in a new, multimedia-friendly environment. William and Judith Bollinger’s gift of $14 million has surely made that dream a sparkling reality for jewelry lovers.
Designed by Eva Jiricna, the gallery’s updated look is sleek, modern and crystal-clear with its two floors connected by a glass spiral staircase. Ancient pieces are juxtaposed with 140 modern and contemporary creations in order to demonstrate the evolution of the craft of jewelry in an open and inviting space.
Once inside, you can view such wonders as the Art Nouveau ‘Thistles’ corsage by Lalique next to a medieval sapphire ring created in the 13th Century. Along with the baubles, computers display even more information about the pieces and their history, making what was once a very “observe at arm’s length” experience a hands-on, public- friendly one.
And while jewelry lovers can purchase a lovely book on the collection in the museum’s gift shop, admiring the gems on the page doesn’t really do the exhibit justice. Nothing beats peering up close into the dark green facets of a Napoleonic Nilot & Fils emerald and diamond necklace and becoming one with your inner Victorian. Take a jaunt across the pond and see this one-of-a-kind exhibit for yourself!