Artfully Adorned: Jewelry from the Christie Romero Collection at FIDM in LA

Scottish Agate Brooch
Scottish Agate Brooch

A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles to attend the Vintage Fashion Expo and was excited to learn that nearby, at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) museum, there was an exhibit of jewelry from the Christie Romero Collection.

The late Christie Romero was a renowned jewelry historian and author of Warman’s Jewelry, a guide to jewelry of the 18th through 20th centuries.   If I had to choose one jewelry book to recommend to a novice, out of the dozens I own, it would be Warman’s Jewelry 3rd edition because it is highly informative, covers all eras and genres in surprising detail, and contains a realistic range of prices; it also contains Romero’s invaluable timeline of jewelry history alongside landmarks of world history and industrial history.  This book is out of print but can be found on Amazon.  Warman’s Jewelry 5th Edition is also excellent and more widely available.

When I attend a museum exhibit I want at least one of two things:  to see spectacular objects that would be otherwise difficult to see together in one place or to learn something new, and preferably both.  Since this exhibit was from the collection of a great jewelry historian and educator I expected it to be at the very least highly educational.  Sadly, this exhibit does not live up to the standard set by Romero in her books.

The 56 objects on display were, for the most part, arranged chronologically but with almost no description.  A handout at the entry has a few introductory paragraphs of info, but the typical descriptor associated with a piece of jewelry went something like this “Necklace, 1925, Glass”.   The jewelry itself was fine, but nothing more extraordinary than what you’d see at a mid-range antique show.  Not in the same league as the two exhibits that I saw late last year in Southern California of the work of Tony Duquette and Van Cleef and Arpels.

I’d normally suggest that you stop by if you happen to be in the area  except that it took a great deal of tenacity (and about a half hour) for my friend and I to actually get in.  Despite the website saying that the exhibit was open to the public 10-5:00, Monday through Saturday, we kept being sent from entrance guard to the gift shop and back, again and again until we finally were let in.

If you’re so inclined to try:  the FIDM Museum is located at 919 S. Grand Avenue, 2nd floor in the Annette Green Fragrance Archive.  Neither the website nor the handout indicate the dates of the exhibit so I don’t know how long it will be up.

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