Welcome to the website of Erik Schoonhoven

Historian, researcher and consultant, specialised in the cultural history of gems and jewels and jewellery makers. Expert on the Dutch royal jewellery collection and on Oscar Massin, the most important jewellery maker of the 19th century. 

Brooch by Oscar Massin, image courtesy of Sotheby's
The Fife Tiara, image courtesy of Sotheby's

Oscar Massin

Oscar Massin (1829-1913) was the most important jewellery maker of the 19th century, but nowadays he is largely forgotten. Erik is the first person to study his artistic biography.

Before René Lalique started working in Art Nouveau style, he was a member of the then dominant ‘School of Massin’. Oscar Massin was widely recognized as the premier jewellery maker before Lalique, earning himself the moniker ‘grand joaillier’.


Ever since obtaining his Master of Arts diploma cum laude, with a 95% score on his master’s thesis, Erik delves deep into a range of subjects related to diamonds, jewels and jewellery makers and publishes on them.

Erik is specialized in the diamond history of Amsterdam, engraved diamonds, the Dutch royal jewellery collection, the very essence of the human attraction to gems and jewels and in Oscar Massin.

2 of the 3 known late 19th century engraved diamond portraits were united in the Dutch Royal House Archives in the Hague in 2020. The meeting was set up by Erik.


The origins of Queen Victoria’s wedding brooch

Queen Victoria’s wedding brooch is perhaps one of the most famous jewels. The large sapphire surrounded by 12 brilliants was given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria on the eve of their wedding and was worn by the Queen on their wedding day. Erik discovered the Dutch origins of the brooch.

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Oscar Massin in the Dutch Royal Collection

My new article in Jewellery History Today, the magazine of the Society of Jewellery Historians, shows the relationships between Martin Coster – founder of Royal Coster Diamonds –, Oscar Massin and King William III of the Netherlands. This historical research and visual comparison serve as basis for the attribution to Massin of the pendant, bow brooch and necklace of the diamond and sapphire parure of the Dutch Royal House.

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Fabergé’s third omen bracelet

On November 10 2015, this Fabergé gold, diamond and demantoid bangle was auctioned at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva for 30.000 CHF. The bracelet was, according to the lot note, presented by Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in 1896 in Nizhny Novgorod. Not much more information is given with the bracelet, but it plays a central role in the tragedy of Nicholas’ reign. It is closely linked to a third, not well known bad omen in his Coronation year, that occurred right before the Emperor and Empress awarded this bracelet.

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DIVA acquires Oscar Massin brooch

For the first time in history, a Belgian public collection has acquired a jewel by the Belgian born Parisian joaillier-fabricant Oscar Massin (1829-1913). Read the article Erik wrote for Jewellery History Today about this jewel.

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'Brilliant' & 'Sherlock'
These are the words I most often here in response to my work
'You can tell that Pat and I fought over who would get to thank you. You played such a needed role in our team and have been a true pleasure to work with'
Abigael MacGibeny of the Eastman Johnson Catalogue Raisonné Project
Photo by garn.nl

About me

Erik’s interest in gems and jewels started at a young age, as part of a wider interest in arts and culture. Since childhood Erik processes lots of information by reading a lot about many different subjects. This wide knowledge base serves him well during his career, which incorporates corporate communications, public affairs, publishing and arts and culture.