May 23 - Review King of the Rings - Opening The King's Treasury

Paul Belard has released the latest instalment in his ongoing Elvis day-by-day biography series, visually (and narratively) documenting Elvis Presley's life and times. Unlike previous volumes, this book doesn’t cover a specific period of time, it covers a “shiny” part of our man's life, his love for big and glittery jewelry, specifically rings.

Reviewed by Kees Mouwen and Nigel Patterson from the >>> Elvis Information Network.
  
This book only shows a fraction of the rings Elvis possessed throughout his life, and as the author correctly states: “Only God knows how many passed through his fingers”. And he knew what he liked, made sketches and designs, with the iconic ‘TCB’ and TLC’ chains as well-known examples. 

Elvis was the first to start many aspects of being a "pop-star" and he certainly set the standard for big flashy jewelry. In the seventies jeweler Lowell Hays sometimes joined Elvis on tour.   


Design

Belard found his format and stuck to it, so we get an almost A4-sized 250-page paperback that fits in nicely with the other volumes in this series.  
  
The design for the cover is simple but effective and it nicely fits the theme, showing “a bit of bling”. The base-color for the book pages is black and this helps to show the radiance of the jewelry which is presented in many full-page pictures with additional background information. The quality is very good, as crisp as can be without using expensive gloss paper.


Content

This book is the first of a two-volume set covering Elvis' love for rings and what happened to them. In the detailed introduction (Preface), Belard discusses the possible reasons why Elvis gave away so much - be it cars, houses, guitars, jewelry - to family, friends, colleagues, and total strangers. 

One of the options Belard suggests comes from David Brooks, a journalist and columnist for the New York Times who wrote about the difference between "happiness" and "joy". He wrote: “Happiness comes from accomplishments, joy comes from offering gifts. Happiness fades, we get used to the things that used to make us happy. Joy doesn’t fade. To live with joy is to live with wonder, gratitude and hope.”

Looking at Elvis’ life and his interest in spirituality, this line of thinking makes sense.

The book opens with Elvis’ High School Ring and this first item illustrates what makes this an interesting book. Not only does the author explain the fascinating background of Elvis buying the ring, but also how over the years it travelled from Elvis to his entourage to a collector, before ending up on the FBI’s Most Wanted Stolen Items list after a burglary. 

Over a hundred rings are covered in this book, most information sourced from auctions where Elvis’ jewelry showed up in the public domain. Next to the pictures of the jewelry, Belard added pictures of Elvis wearing the rings and official paperwork (letters/certificates of authenticity). It is also interesting to read how some of the items increased and some of the items decreased in value over the years.

The background information also includes various media articles about Elvis’ love of jewelry, an article by Lowell Hays on the making of the TCB Ring, and a newspaper advertisement where one lucky fan could win a $30,000 ring owned by Elvis.

A four-page spread devoted to a Tourmaline and Diamond Ring elicits mixed feelings. The cluster of multi-colored stones is very busy but certainly well-matched one of Elvis’ more colorful outfits. 

Belard’s background information about the ring is detailed including an explanation of what tourmaline is: Tourmaline is a crystalline boron silicate mineral compounded with elements such as aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium. Tourmaline is classified as a semi-precious stone and the gemstone comes in a wide variety of colours. According to the Madras  Tamil Lexicon  the name comes from the Sinhalese word “thoramalli” or “tora-molli”, which is applied to a group of gemstones found in Sri Lanka….

Browsing through the pages it is hard to select the most appealing items. Some, like the classic horse-shoe and TCB rings are obvious choices, while other items offer nice designs and are a good illustration of what type of rings Elvis liked at different times in his life. And some - like the Lion, Ram's and Panther Head rings or his big Black Star Sapphire ring - may be considered extravagant and ostentatious. Others, like two very unusual Gold and Diamond rings (p136 and pages 146-47) are in their own way, quite impressive, while a Gold, Diamond and Garnet “Swami” ring is arguably, unattractive. Admittedly, this is a matter of individual taste. What one person considers ugly may be beautiful to another.  
  
The amount of bling on show is jaw dropping! While the rings are shown up close (sans being worn), there are also numerous images of Elvis wearing the rings.

Since the book will be a reference for many fans, an index - although it would be difficult to name each ring - would be a nice addition to the second part of this two-volume set.

Conclusion

Elvis' sumptuous pendants, heavy gold chains, huge and lavish rings set with rubies, sapphires, lapis lazuli, and emeralds, bracelets of gold or precious gems belong together in the eyes of many fans. 
  
Since "Only God knows" how many rings passed through his hands, it is great that the author decided to compile this compendium documenting "The King's Jewels" and telling their story. By the way, Paul Belard also plans to release additional books about Elvis’ watches, pendants and bracelets, and other baubles.

Paul Belard should be complimented on his research to (un)cover yet another aspect of the Elvis world by opening up one part of "The King's Treasury" for fans. This book will be a visually pleasing and interesting read for many fans.

Comment on this review, contact >>> Nigel Patterson by mail.

The book is available on Amazon or directly from Belard at pbelard@hotmail.com

Paul Belard already announced a volume 2 of 'King of the Rings' and he is making plans for books on Elvis' other jewlery like his bracelets, necklases, watches etcetera)

For those interested, Joe Krein of Elvis Express Radio did a video about the book: