The Beauty of “Creating Beauty”: A Review of Rosalie Berberian’s Love Letter to Jewelry and Enamels
by Kate Nixon
This article has been edited to include the correction of Roselle’s name. Her name is Roselle Crump, not Clump.
During the 2019 National Arts and Crafts Conference, Rosalie Berberian presented her seminar entitled “If Jewels Could Talk: Stories to Share with Friends” and made it a point to talk about her discovery of a new artist she learned about from a previous conference, one Roselle Crump from Buffalo, New York. As she is a researcher, she of course told us of Roselle Crump’s life in both New York and North Carolina. For those of us there at her seminar, we could see the joy in her face as she described discovering a new artist and making it her goal to discover everything she could about Ms. Crump. She ended her seminar with a smile on her face and a happy “Thank you for listening!” In reading her material, one gets the notion that she brings every bit of research she can to every subject she studies, but gets so much joy in it as well.
In her author’s introduction, Berberian writes “This book is about objects — objects that were created to bring beauty into the lives of their owners.” So having so many examples of the vibrant and colorful objects of beauty included for readers to feast on with their eyes, it is appropriate to title Berberian’s book Creating Beauty: Jewelry and Enamels of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. It turns out the book serves as a testament to her clear dedication to her love of the jewelry and the movement itself.
Featuring more than 530 gorgeous color images of works by Albert Berry to Elizabeth Copeland to Robert Riddle Jarvie to Jessie Preston to Josephine Shaw, the impressive and definitive reference to Arts and Crafts jewelry written by Rosalie Berberian follows a career in research and turning her attention to the Arts and Crafts Movement. After collecting art pottery of the era, Berberian moved into researching and subsequently teaching and lecturing on the movement’s art metalsmiths. Recognized as the authority on silver, jewelry and art-enamels created by the era’s most talented jeweler, Berberian fully delves into the lives and catalog of works by the best jewelers, metalsmiths, and enamelists of the era. Each page is a well thought out balance of substance and style, revealing stories of each artist and commentary of their works as only an authority could describe it.
Descriptions of early 20th Century jewelers and firms from all over the country are equally represented and the fruits of their labor are shown from the beauty of Berberian’s expansive collection with style. Berberian represents the female craftspersons as equally as their more documented male counterparts, including a handy reference section including a glossary of terms, further notes on the featured craftspeople and firms, and credit to the two photographers who took on the massive endeavor of visually documenting such a large collection.
In the area of Arts and Crafts jewelry, this book is THE reference book to have: it is a truly comprehensive look for the known and unknown metalsmiths and artists. The collection of works shown in this book does plenty to make up for any holes of information in this area of study. And while Berberian deftly weaves her decades of research into covering each artist and provides the beautiful imagery of a wide range of Arts and Crafts era jewelry and enamels, another beauty is revealed on the page: a passion, love, and dedicated for keeping interest in these beautiful objects going. We think that’s the real beauty: a dedicated soul to the very end.
Editor’s note: The Arts and Crafts world suffered an irreplaceable loss with the passing of Rosalie Berberian on February 8th earlier this year. She was determined to cement her legacy in the Arts and Crafts revival with her generosity demonstrated throughout her life and sharing the information which she collected as dearly as the objects that she admired.