PERSONALITY PROFILE – Beatriz Chadour-Sampson is a leading jewellery historian, author and curator

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By Anjum Cave

Dr Beatriz Chadour-Sampson, a UK-based international jewellery historian, has shared her knowledge and passion through numerous publications, books, specialist jewellery curations, consultancy projects and academic lectures. Beatriz’s expertise is recognised and valued globally.

A notable and extensive historical ring collection curated by Beatriz is at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich: the Alice and Louis Koch Collection. One thousand five hundred rings are displayed and detailed, spanning superb examples from antiquity to the present day. The exhibition has three sections. The first introduces the stories of rings including love, life and death, signet rings, portraits, faith and superstition, and secret functions. The second section showcases the chronological evolution of the ring across the eras, and contemporaneous forms and styles. The third section displays rings from the mid 20th century to the present day and incorporates rings that push artistic and technical boundaries.

As an homage to the Koch collection, Beatriz has published ‘Rings of the 20th and 21st Centuries’. Other jewellery books include ‘The Power of Love – Jewels, Romance and Eternity’, and ‘Pearls’ which was published whilst Beatriz was guest curator of the Pearls Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her latest addition is ‘Tadema Gallery London: Jewellery from the 1860’s to the 1960’s’.

Beatriz elaborates, “As a child I grew up in the family jewellery business with gemstones and pearls: Havana, Cuba, New York and Frankfurt am Main. Aged eighteen, I decided I did not want to have anything to do with jewellery, and then went on to study art history, classical archaeology, and Italian philology. My interest in jewellery was revived by learning more about its history. My first step was a Ph.D. thesis on the Italian Renaissance goldsmith, Antonio Gentili da Faenza. With my background knowledge in jewellery and the thesis my first publication, I was commissioned to write a catalogue of the jewellery collection of the Museum fur Angewandte Kunst in Cologne, with 900 pieces covering 5,000 years of jewellery history … and so it went on.”

Next month, through the Victoria and Albert Museum, Beatriz is delivering a comprehensive online course called ‘Bedazzled: A History of Jewellery’. She was consultant curator for the redesign of the William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery, and some 3,500 jewels from this, and other major museum collections, are discussed as part of the course. Details can be found at vam.ac.uk/info/academy

Dr Beatriz Chadour-Sampson