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September 12, 2013

A First for Everything: The Grand Jewels of JAR come to the Met


JAR White Lilac brooch 2001 Diamonds, garnets, aluminum, silver and gold Private Collection And Lilac brooch 2002 Violet, sapphires, garnets, aluminum, silver and gold Private Collection

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my move to the Upper East Side—where I now reside directly across from the entrance to Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In a blog about my experience at the atelier and workshop of David Webb, I also wrote about being separated from the close community of Greenwich Village yet having the sheer rush that comes with being closer to the shops and studios of some of my favorite renowned jewelry houses Living in this tony land of Cartier Love bracelet clad wrists, retro Van Cleef and Arpels’ invisibly set baubles and Chanel’s modern shooting stars definitely does bespeak the passion for luxury of the women who are bedazzled in jewels to drop their children at elementary school.

It takes me exactly four minutes to walk the half a block to get to The MET, so you could imagine my delight when I discovered that, in a first of many firsts, my “neighborhood” museum is featuring a retrospective of the eponymous JAR in Jewelry By JAR. The will be the first exhibition of JAR in America (the only other major exhibition of Rosenthal’s work was held in 2002 at Somerset House in London). And it will be the first time that the MET will feature the pieces of a contemporary and still living and working jeweler. It will also, most likely, be the first time I don’t have to high tail it to make it to a press preview on time.


JAR Geranium brooch 2007 Diamonds, aluminum, silver, gold Private Collection

 I have been to  many of the famous ateliers of Place Vendome but have never  had the excitement of pressing the bronze camellia doorbell to enter the secret and hidden shop of JAR, which Bronx born and Harvard educated  Joel Rosenthal opened in 1978  with his partner Pierre Jeannet and where Rosenthal’s  opulent and fantastical, sometimes whimsical and always meticulously crafted  jewels are presented and captivate and possess even the most discriminating of collectors.


Collection JAR Butterfly Brooch 1994 Sapphires, fire opals, rubies, amethyst, green garnets, black diamonds, silver and gold Private Collection

The exhibition will feature a selection of over 300 works of Rosenthal’s finest pieces—from jewels in classical flower forms and organic shapes to witty objets d’art, which depict the vivid landscape of  his imagination, the fearless beauty of  pave settings and painterly color combinations and the articulated shapes in his work. These qualities have not just created a following among celebrities but has launched Rosenthal’s own star as one of the most acclaimed jewelers over the past 35 years, placing him among the ranks of history’s greatest jewelers.

Jewels by JAR is organized by Jane Adlin, Associate Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, to be published by the Metropolitan Museum and distributed by Yale University Press.

The exhibition will be featured on the Metropolitan Museum’s website at



JAR Zebra Brooch 1987 Banded agate, diamonds, silver, and gold Collection of Ann Getty

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