Carol Woolton, Britain’s leading Jewellery and Gemstone Historian, Editor, Stylist, Author, and Podcaster, joined Vogue Education Presents this week to share her 20-plus years of work for publications such as British Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair, American Vogue, and The Financial Times.
British Vogue’s Carol Woolton visits the Condé Nast College
During Carol Woolton’s talk at Condé Nast College, she delved into the history of jewellery in fashion media, the role that jewels have in connecting communities, conveying identity, and building a more sustainable and socially responsible future. Carol’s deep knowledge and passion for the significance and position of jewels, both past and future, left the audience with a deep appreciation for the art form and its integral role in fashion.
Throughout fashion history, jewellery has served as a shortcut to creating a unique, particular style and process of thought. For every style and era of fashion, there exists complimentary jewellery. Carol took the audience through specific examples of how jewellery in fashion has shifted social scenes throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries. From Eduardo Benito’s ‘Art Deco’ illustrations that reflected women’s liberation in the 1920s, to Edward Steichen’s work of ushering in the era of the Rocker Chick and belligerent British attitude, to Corrine Day’s anti-glamour, minimal movement of the 1990s. She provided a visual journey of the ever-changing landscape of jewellery and its vast opportunities for storytelling, societal commentary, and artistic expression.
“Jewels are the starting point to discuss past eras, romance, lost fortunes, revolution, precious stones and personal histories;” – Carol Woolton
Jewellery has historically been a chronicle to the ever-changing representation of female identity. However, the lines between the role of jewellery in traditional gender roles have been blurred, if not erased completely. Carol spoke about Timothée Chalamet’s recent October 2022 cover for British Vogue where he was styled by Edward Enninful in Cartier, Chrome Hearts, and The Great Frog London. Being the first solo male on the cover of British Vogue, and a popular culture icon, this was a great signifier of a renewal in the way men perceive and wear jewellery.
The sustainability of jewellery
In regards to jewellery’s relevance to social and environmental issues, Carol stated that jewellery has always been the most relevant thing humans have worn. Purchasing gemstones and jewellery is inherently sustainable, as it is created to be passed along lineages, acting as a manifest and bonding agent for loved ones and people of the same tribe. As Kate Moss once said, “Jewellery is eternal. It will never go out of fashion. It will always be there.” Jewellery is an unmovable piece of fashion that has conveyed deep meaning for centuries, and will continue to do so for centuries to come.
Carol remains a Contributing Jewellery Director at British Vogue, and her work can be explored through her five books; The New Stone Age, Fashion for Jewels, Drawing Jewels for Fashion, Floral Jewels, and Vogue the Jewellery. Carol is also the host of the If Jewels Could Talk podcast, where she explores four centuries of jewellery history, culture, and futures from various angles, with topics including; The Future of Diamonds, Bridgerton, Royal Jewels, and more!
For those interested in the booming London jewellery scene, Carol recommends heading to the V&A Museum, The Art of Movement, Van Cleef & Arpels exhibit at the Design Museum, Grays Antique Market, and roaming Bond Street.
By Chloé Janssen – MA Luxury Brand Strategy & Business