Knowledge Exchanges

Global North/Europe

Xiaoyu Chen

Dissertation Title

The Desire of Light: Diamond Cutting in the Eighteenth-Century

Xiaoyu Chen

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I studied jewellery design and jewellery making in the most traditional goldsmith and jewellery school in Paris before starting my trip in history. I have all my passion on jewellery history especially its making techniques. The craftsmen and artists use their hands to register history by the things they made. Jewellery, for example, which can be considered as one of the important archives to our day since it records the change of taste, political preference and habitats of consumers. It also records the shift of material using and a change of technique. To some extent, jewellery is a comprehensive embodiment of a particular era. As jewellery has nearly the same longue of human culture, the shift of jewellery's appearance will be a comprehensive result of the society, reasons can be cultural, political, ideological, economic even philosophical. Technique is the most direct method to change the look of jewellery. My general point of view is that, not only in this work, but will be the guiding ideology in the future as well, technique is a way to understand history.

My dissertation is talking about the change of diamond and diamond jewellery as one appearance of the desire of light during the baroque period.

Scholars always put the 'seventeenth century', 'eighteenth century', 'baroque period' and 'diamond' together. The diamond cutting development was getting increasingly rapid and the diamond consumption had also grown in mass since the seventeenth century, especially the second half of this century. During the 1600 and 1750, diamond cutting techniques improved enormously than any other previous era. My point is that the development of diamond cutting and diamond jewellery was a result which was affected by different factors. It should be one of the embodiments of the social or cultural or political state at that period. I am working on exploring the relationship of this result and its reason in this dissertation. Besides explaining the development of diamond cutting techniques and analyzing diamond jewellery pieces from different museums, I also tried to find out a wider environment of the "desire of light" during this period.