A few months ago, I wrote about a new book from the V&A Museum called Medieval Jewellery in Europe: 1100 - 1500. I was able to obtain a copy from The Book Depository for under $20 USD (and with free shipping!), so I ordered it. It arrived yesterday, and is sufficiently short that I've already read about halfway through it. However, I figured it might be of sufficiently general interest to warrant a quick book review.
As the price suggests, this Medieval Jewellery, unlike Ronald Lightbrown's out-of-print classic, is slender (about 110 pages, including the bibliography and index). The text, though somewhat informative, contains little that might not be found in any standard survey-type history of the subject.
Where this volume shines is in the pictures. There are many of them, some quite large. Virtually all of them are in color. About half of the photographs are wonderfully large, clear close-up photographs of items of jewelery; the rest are equally clear photographs of paintings or miniatures, which show how the jewelery was worn with period costume. A few of the photographs will be familiar to enthusiasts of costume of the period, but most are of items that do not commonly appear in the standard surveys on the subject.
My own regret about this book is that, despite the title, it focuses almost exclusively on jewelry from the 13th through 15th centuries. There are almost no images of jewels from the 1100s or 1200s. I had hoped for more 11th and 12th century material.
Despite that disappointment, I am not sorry to have bought this book. However, it's far from a must-have. If you like this sort of book, I'd advise you to check a copy out of your local library once it arrives there, or to wait a few months until copies begin to show up on the used-book market. $20 is not a bad price for what you get; but I'll bet that within a year it will be possible to locate copies for half that amount.