Book Review Gems & Gemology, Summer 2019, Vol. 55, No. 2

Book Review: Farah Khan: A Bejeweled Life

Farah Khan: A Bejeweled Life
By Paola De Luca, hardcover, 304 pp., illus., publ. by Rizzoli, New York, 2019, $125.00.

In this complex and vast world, we often forget to pay attention to the little things around us and all the importance one object can hold. A Bejeweled Life gives us an idea of how simple it is to appreciate the minute details in and around our lives. With each flip of the page, the reader experiences the many different realms Farah Khan occupies. Because this book is a combination of an autobiography and portfolio, we are given a glimpse of Khan’s life and we are able to understand what drives her and makes her jewelry unique. Through De Luca’s use of photographs and Khan’s own sketches and words, our perspectives are altered to help us better understand the latter’s deceptively simple jewelry designs. If Khan isn’t getting inspiration in family and close friends, she sees it in the beautiful complexities found in nature and architecture. Khan does a great job showcasing the simplicities that make her jewelry so exquisite.

The book begins with the four pillars of her brand: Nature, Love, Architecture, and Ethics. She then breaks down the pillars into chapters that inspire her work: “Fluidity,” “Royal Flair,” “Naturalia,” “The Rose,” and “Surreal Vision.” We are introduced to each theme with a story and an image. “Fluidity” defines Khan as a person: her changing roles, her shifting landscapes, her expanding horizons, and her sense of freedom. Here she includes a statement cuff called “Amphitrite-Queen of the Sea,” which uses 151.24 carats of kite-shaped Colombian emeralds alongside carved aquamarine leaves and diamonds, all set in 18K yellow gold. “Royal Flair” is incorporated in her pieces with decadent jewels, immortal art, and palaces to draw attention to the great dynasties that shaped human civilization. Two 18K gold rings from her Crown collection fit into this category; the first features amethyst, citrine, and diamonds, while the other has green topaz alongside emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds. “Naturalia” is used to capture ephemeral moments of natural grace, such as sunlight filtering through a dragonfly’s wing. The ring called “Social Butterfly” uses yellow and pink sapphires with rubies and diamonds in an 18K gold setting. “The Rose” evokes romance and nostalgia, while “Surreal Vision” represents Khan’s life and where she found her calling—her art is shaped by the streets and spirits of the city where she grew up. This publication aligns perfectly with Khan’s lifestyle. Not only do we get an up-close view of her art, but we get to experience her beautiful poetry, which springs from the same deep inner thoughts as her designs.

One drawback of the book is that each theme is very different from the last, making it difficult to keep track of where the book is going and where it will end up. It is very easy to get lost in the decorative pages and sumptuous photos and lose track of her four main building blocks. It might be easier for the reader to understand the overall concept if the book only touched on those pillars. Since many factors contribute to Khan’s aesthetic, the reader can easily forget that the book is about jewelry. However, I expected that I would encounter many vibrant pages that would distract me from keeping track of the storyline.

While the organizational aspect of the book could be improved upon, people looking for the inspiration and drive to design their own jewelry would be drawn to A Bejeweled Life; I developed just such a spark to create jewelry. The book is very appealing to the eye and would be useful to anyone who gives close attention to detail. Within each page, we see all the intellectual work artists produce to create the unique jewelry that so many of us desire.

Jessa Rizzo is a staff gemologist in colored stones at GIA in Carlsbad, California.