A Resplendent Collection of Fine Dances
Jewels is brilliantly unique: a full-length, three-act, plotless ballet that uses the music of three very different composers. Balanchine was inspired by the artistry of jewellry designers Van Cleef & Arpels, and chose music that perfectly reflects three entirely different dance forms, unified by elegance of the jewel theme and Barbara Karinska's opulent costumes.
Each section of the ballet is indeed distinct in both music and mood. Emeralds, which Balanchine considered "an evocation of France - the France of elegance, comfort, dress, [and] perfume," recalls the 19th century dances of the French Romantics. Rubies is crisp and witty, epitomizing the collaboration of Stravinsky and Balanchine.
And finally, Diamonds recalls the order and grandeur of Imperial Russia and the Maryinsky Theater, where Balanchine was trained. Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp have written: "If the entire imperial Russian inheritance of ballet were lost, Diamonds would still tell us of its essence."