European museums have the world history of jewelry on view this year, from ancient Italy and Afghanistan through the Austrian Renaissance to 20th-century Oman. You can even peek at the Fabergé collection in Buckingham Palace.
The Splendour of Power: The Habsburgs’ Imperial Jewels from Vienna’s Kinstkammer Collection, through March 13, 2011, at the Schmuck Museum, Pforzheim, Germany, shows the opulence of the Hapsburg Empire with 60 works from the late Renaissance and Baroque periods: filigreed jewels, cameos, gem-studded gold goblets, and rock crystal vessels.
Magic of Amber: Amulets and Jewelry from Ancient Basilicata, through April 25, 2011, at the Romano-Germanic Museum, Cologne, Germany. Diadems, belts and carved amulets made from amber, dating to 8th century B.C., demonstrate the impressive skills of prehistoric jewelers in a less-known southern region of ancient Italy.
Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World, March 3-July 3, 2011, at The British Museum, London. More than 200 treasures, nearly lost during the years of civil war and Taliban rule, are on loan from the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul. Classical sculptures, Roman glass and stone tableware from Egypt, and inlaid gold ornaments worn by the nomadic elite reveal Afghanistan’s fascinating ancient culture.
Adornment and Identity: Silver Jewellery from Oman, through September 11, 2011, at The British Museum, London, explores the Sultanate of Oman in the 20th century with embroidered costumes, silver weapons and jewelry – including bracelets, anklets, necklaces, earrings and hair ornaments decorated with gold leaf, coins, coral and glass beads.
Georg Dobler: Jewellery 1980-2010, April 8-June 26, 2011, at the Schmuck Museum, Pforzheim, Germany, a three-decade retrospective of goldsmith trailblazer Georg Dobler’s geometric and floral designs.
Japonisme from Falize to Fabergé: the goldsmith and Japan, May 10–20, 2011, Wartski, London, explores the influence of Japanese art on Western jewelers between 1867 and 1917. Some 160 pieces by Falize, Fabergé, Boucheron, Fouquet, Gaillard, Vever, Lalique, Cartier and Tiffany will be displayed beside photographs of the art that inspired them.
Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe, June 23-Oct 9, 2011, at The British Museum, London, has 70 reliquaries used by medieval Christians for the bodily remains of saints. Mainly from Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, these sacred objects are made of wood, stone, ivory, precious metals and gems, but it was the perceived power of their contents that makes them fascinating.
Hammer, sketch-book and CAD: 90 years of the vocational school for goldsmiths at Pforzheim, July 10-October 30, 2011, at the Schmuck Museum, Pforzheim, Germany, shows jewelry created by goldsmiths trained at this famous school since 1921.
Royal Fabergé Exhibition, August 1-September 25, 2011, in the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace, London, offers a rare look at the royal family’s extensive collection of Fabergé jewels, eggs and boxes crafted in enamel, multicolored gold and carved semi-precious stones.
Serpentina: Serpents in Jewellery, Nov. 26, 2011-Feb. 28, 2012 at the Schmuck Museum, Pforzheim, Germany, traces the wearable snake from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, through Mexico, India and Africa, to famous works by Castellani, Cartier, Fabergé, Lalique, and 20th century artists.