Under the gleam of every jewel hides a fascinating story, according to Carol Woolton, who has seen more precious stones than most.
Former jewellery editor at Tatler and current contributing jewellery director at Vogue, Woolton is a historian and expert who has written several books about jewellery and can trace its rough-hewn origins from before antiquity to the sleek, contemporary styles that we see adorn the rich and famous in the present day.
Her podcast, If Jewels Could Talk, With Carol Woolton, explores every glittering facet of the subject, explaining why jewellery is much more than an easy way to put a finishing touch on a fancy outfit.
In one episode called Superstitious Gems, Woolton speaks to Dr Jeffrey Post, mineralogist and curator of gems and minerals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (home to the infamous Hope Diamond) about why people believed that amulets could protect against evil spells, and how some precious jewels have ended up with bad reputations and are considered cursed.
In other episodes, Woolton explores how jewellery can signify power, revealing how influential women such as the First Ladies of France and the US use jewellery to send subtle but powerful messages to the public and foreign dignitaries.
She also speaks with historian Kate Williams about the jewellery collection of Mary, Queen of Scots, who had a talisman made from a slice of “unicorn horn” which was set in gold and intended to protect her from ill health in her later years.
Woolton said: “Jewels are the starting point to discuss past eras, romance, lost fortunes, revolution, precious stones and personal histories. I never met a stone or jewel that didn’t have something to say.”
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