History of Western Jewelry

Instructor: Ioanna I. Lalaouni

This course covers the history of western jewelry from the Middle Ages through to the 21st century. From the reliquaries of Charlemagne in precious materials to contemporary studio works in acrylics, wood and textiles, the course focuses on how political, economic and social developments have left their mark on the art of jewelry. The intriguing constructions of conspiracy rings, mourning brooches made of human and animal hair and modern German headpieces crafted from dried lentils provide an exciting insight into jewelry types and forms that trace the development of jewelry and its role in diverse western societies. Instruction will conclude with fine jewelry designs by Lalique and Faberge to Cartier, Tiffany and finally Ilias Lalaounis as seen in the ILJMuseum.

Instruction will be onsite at the ILJMuseum with slide lectures as well as via field trips to other Athens museums with relevant jewelry collections. Students will have access to the ILJMuseum’s extensive research library and support from museum curators.

Assessment: by written exam (2 hours)

Selected bibliography

  • Museo del Gioelio. Jewellery & Art; Jewellery and Icons; Jewellery and Beauty; Jewellery & Function;  Jewellery and Fashion; Jewellery and Design; Jewellery & Symbol; Jewellery and Magic; Jewelry & Future. Vicenza: Marsilio, 2014
  • Oppi Untracht. Jewelry Concepts and Technology. London:  Doubleday & Company (1982).
  • Phillips Clare. Jewels and Jewellery. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2000.
  • W. Lindermann & FH Trier/ Idar – Obertein. Thinking Jewellery. Stuttgard: Arnoldshe  Art Publishers (2011).


About Ioanna I. Lalaouni

Ioanna I. Lalaouni is a jewelry historian, and the Director of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum in Athens, Greece. She holds a B.A. in Art History from Richmond College, London and an M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies Degree from Boston University. She has curated a great number of exhibitions on jewelry and the decorative arts both in Athens and abroad, and has authored and/or edited many exhibition catalogues and volumes of collected essays. As the Director of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum since 1993, she has lectured worldwide on the art of Greek goldsmithing.

Email: ioannalalaounis@lalaounis-jewelrymuseum.gr