Gilt by Jamie Brenner (2022)
The Pavlin family has been known for decades for their beautiful jewelry, especially their diamond engagement rings, but the family is torn apart over a rare diamond. Now, Gemma, a Pavlin granddaughter, wants her late mother's ring back, and she'll have to reconcile with her two aunts to get the answers she's been looking for. Brenner is so good at crafting multigenerational stories that feature long-held secrets, and this was no exception. She creates these families and businesses that feel so real - like I could open a magazine and see an ad for Pavlin & Co today. I could have done without the romantic drama that Gemma and her two aunts all seemed to face, leaving the focus on the family itself, but I did enjoy the setting of Provincetown. It's clear that it's a place close to Brenner's heart, because she describes it so well. The secrets that are revealed over the course of the book made me want to keep reading, although at times it felt like there was too much going on with each character, making the story lose focus a bit. 3.5 stars
The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire by Francesca Cartier Brickell (2021)
Researched and written by a Cartier family member, this book tells the history of the famed jewelry brand, from its humble Parisian beginnings to its global presence, with a prominent focus on the Cartier family itself. Cartier is such a recognizable name and brand, I was very interested to learn more about the company and its famous jewels. Cartier was, first and foremost, a family business, run by four generations, with the bulk of its success coming during the reign of three brothers in the 20th century. Using newly-found letters, extensive interviews, and other research, Brickell crafts a highly engaging narrative (I especially enjoyed the quotes from her grandfather). The book is quite long and felt at times like maybe every single memory or story didn't need to be included, but overall it was very readable and very entertaining. You'll get to know the Cartier family very well, as well as learn about the company in the context of wider global events - and of course, many celebrities make an appearance. I wish there were more color pictures of the jewels, because they were beautiful! 4 stars
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