Glittering jewelry in incredible shapes, you’ll never see anything else like Jewels by JAR in the world.
You’d be hard pressed to find jaded, “Oh darling, I’ve seen everything” journalists freaking out en masse, but they did at the press preview for the Jewels by JAR preview at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday.
The 400 plus items—the word “item” seems so trite to describe what they are-that comprise this exhibit will totally and completely rearrange your thinking about jewelry, sculpture and what is possible.
How can you accurately describe a jewel-encrusted snake necklace that could slither out of it’s glass case? Or a zebra brooch that softly whinnies? Or a pave diamond floral sculpture/brooch/objet d’art that you swore was gently waving its petals with the air currents? There was a wall of gilded, jeweled butterflies that I swore were trying to escape their captivity.
I could attempt to pluck the perfect word to explain it all, but no matter the choice, I would fail utterly to get close to what I saw.
Until very recently, JAR was known only to serious collectors (with very deep pockets) and esoteric jewelry aficionados. Who or what is JAR? JAR stands for Joel A. Rosenthal, he's a Bronx native, Harvard grad, Paris resident (since 1966) and sculptor whose medium is jewelry. Like many new grads, he wandered through a few careers. According to a Forbes profile, he, “dabbled first in scriptwriting, then needlepoint…” before finding his passion for jewelry design in 1977.
One of his works, a ring made from 850 diamonds made to look like a gardenia was designed for actress Ellen Barkin. It was given to her by her then husband, Ronald Perelman. When Barkin divorced Perelman, she held a giant jewelry auction (mimicked in one of the SATC movies) at Christie’s in 2006. Before auction, the ring was estimated to bring in between $100,000 to $150,000.
According to the Forbes article, JAR will not sell an item if he feels that it won’t look good on the new owner. Only 75 to 80 pieces are crafted every year.
Inspiration and pieces range from an orange peel re-imagined as a brooch to fleur de lys earrings to chunky necklaces and even watches.
The last time his work was shown was in London in 2002. It’s an extremely rare event that his pieces are together under one roof. This retrospective is the first one that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has devoted to a contemporary artist.
The exhibit runs from November 20, 2013 to March 9, 2014. Visit the museum’s website for more information.