If you like your jewelry over-the-top, the Met has just the exhibition for you: Jewels by Jar. It’s the first show focused on a contemporary artist of gems, and it was made possible by a roster of individuals – including Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis — who could actually afford to purchase one of these amazing creations.
The exhibition, tucked away on the first floor of the Met, features more than 400 pieces by Joel A. Rosenthal, a Brooklyn born jewelry designer, who graduated from Harvard, immediately moved to Paris, met Pierre Jeannet – his partner since then – and eventually settled on becoming a jewelry designer. He and his partner opened a shop, JAR, on the Place Vendome in 1978, and wealthy cognoscenti from around the world have been flocking to it ever since.
JAR specializes in the Pave technique – a setting method that produces a surface of small stones placed so close together that the exterior seems to be covered with a carpet of tiny gems, often diamonds.
Rosenthal is clearly inspired by nature, in all its manifestations. Whimsy, humor and a unique aesthetic vision are evident in his work. Flowers and butterflies continue to be a favorite theme, but very little constrains his imagination, as the following images demonstrate. Seashells, snakes, sea creatures, onion bouquets – all make their appearance. One of my favorites is a pillow box with my first initial E, in diamonds, as one hand of the clock. But, hey, Christmas is coming. You never know, right? Unfortunately, it’s not offered in the gift shop. So, like most everyone else, I’ll simply feast with my eyes. A good way to start the holiday window-shopping season.
Jewels by JAR
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 20 – March 9, 2014
Review and Images by Eleanor Foa Dienstag