Diving for Starfish: The Jeweler, the Actress, the Heiress, and One of the World's Most Alluring Pieces of Jewelry

Cherie Burns
Both a history of fine jewelry coming out of Paris in the Golden Age and a tour through the secretive world of high-end, privately-sold jewelry, Diving for Starfish is a stylish detective story with a glittering piece of jewelry at its heart. In the mid 1930s, in the workroom of the famous Parisian jeweler Boivin, a young jewelry designer named Juliette Moutard created one of the most coveted pieces of jewelry in the world―the famous starfish pin―still sought after today by aficionados of fine jewelry. The starfish, created out of gold and encrusted with 71 cabochon rubies and 241 small amethysts, was distinctive because its five rays were articulated, meaning that they could curl and conform to the bustline or shoulder of the women who wore it. The House of Boivin made three of them. Two of the women who bought and wore the starfish were Claudette Colbert and Millicent Rogers. Obsessed with the pin after she saw it in the private showroom of a Manhattan jewelry merchant, Cherie Burns set off on a journey to find out all she could about the elusive pins and the women who owned them. Her search took her around the world to Paris, London, New York, and Hollywood. Diving for Starfish is the story of these marvelous pieces of jewelry and the equally dazzling women who loved them.


Reviewed: 2018-07-30

This was a new subject for me. I knew a little about good jewelry, but not much. This was an eye opening book. Diving for Starfish is a search for a Boivin Starfish made by a French jeweler Boivin. Burns, first sees one of the rare starfish brooches during a book launch for her biography of Millicent Rogers. 

Before coming to this book I was familiar with the way art carries its provenance. Fine jewelry is kept in secrecy. I can understand this to a point, but when pieces can be reproduced and depending on the markings, or lack thereof, can change the value for all of the pieces. After reading this book I now want to learn more about good jewelry and the jewelers who created these fabulous pieces. 

The only reason I'm not giving it five stars is due to the lack of photos. I was constantly turning to my phone to look at the famous photo of Millicent Rogers wearing her starfish, and even photos of the two top designers at Boivin. When you're writing about fashion or art it does help the reader to see photos of the works and the artists.

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