Monday, November 25, 2013

JAR - Revisited!

Post by Christine Webb

Well, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday, 5 days after the opening of Jewels by JAR.  All I can say is - GO!  It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit, and one that I hope to visit again before March 9, 2014, when it closes.  I have seen many photographs of JAR jewelry over the years, but there's nothing like seeing the real thing up close and personal.  The pieces are truly works of art -  so dimensional and vibrant with color - opulent is an understatement!  I fell in love with so many pieces, it would be hard to choose one Gem to Remember!  I just kept thinking about the lucky ladies who own these spectacular gems.  

Really and truly - I have never ever seen pavé done like this before - the craftsmen that are bringing JAR's designs to life are clearly some of the most talented jewelry makers and goldsmiths on the planet.  I now have such an appreciation for the work that goes in to each and every piece - I can't imagine the time, patience, and effort, let alone the talent.  And of course there is the sourcing of the gems to consider! JAR is a master artist and he obviously has master goldsmiths bringing to life his vision and art. It's like nothing else I've ever seen!

Please see my earlier blog post - JAR - with images and information about JAR and the exhibit. Below are a few more images of some of my favorite pieces on exhibit, courtesy Jewels by JAR catalogue!

Wave Brooch, beryls, chrysoberyls, sapphires, tourmalines, diamonds, silver and gold - 
one of my favorites!

 Mughal Flower Bracelet, rubies, sapphires, amethysts, garnets, titanium, silver and gold
 Pansy rings and bracelets with incredible colored gemstones
 Ribbon Pendant Earrings, diamonds, silver and gold
 Seesaw Earrings, kunzite, pink sapphires, diamonds, platinum, silver and gold
 Fountain Pendant Earrings, aquamarines, diamonds, silver and gold
 Ring, rubies, sapphires, diamonds platinum and gold - WANT this ring!!!
 Ribbon Earrings, sapphires, diamonds, silver and gold
 Seashell Brooch, spinels, diamonds, silver and gold
Pendant Brooch, jade, garnets, sapphires, spinels, tourmalines, diamonds, silver and gold
 Folded Butterfly Brooch, topaz, diamonds, sapphires, silver and gold

Taking photos is not permitted - so unfortunately the only images I have at the Met are of me inside and outside the museum!  The exhibit hall is the perfect size.  I love the cases recessed in both walls and the free-standing vitrines that break up the center aisle.  The salmon colored velvet fabric gives a dramatic warm glow as you walk in to the dark hall (no lights except in the cases).  And because of this, I strongly recommend that you take a small pen light or flashlight (with intense light, LED) so that you can see the colors of the gemstones. Unfortunately, as it is in every museum, lighting is extremely difficult.  Without my flashlight, I would have missed the intense hues of many of the gems.  As most of the gems are pavé set and encrust the jewelry, it is difficult for the light to shine on all of the gemstones and for you to be able to see all of the colors against the salmon colored background (for example, the pink color of morganite can't be seen).

Working at the Smithsonian, I understand all too well the issues with keeping the exhibits clean. We get complaints regularly.  It is nearly impossible to keep dust from getting into the cases over time. However, there is never an excuse for fingerprints or just plain dirty jewelry - especially at the opening of an exhibit.  And I have to admit, I was disappointed to see both. (I wonder if Mr. Rosenthal was too!) The lighting, salmon colored background, and fingerprints aside, with the aid of a flashlight, the exhibit was stunning and should not be missed.

So here's my recommendation:
1.  Don't miss the exhibit - go early at the 10 a.m. opening to avoid the crowds
2.  Buy the book Jewels by JAR that accompanies the exhibit 
3.  Overlook the lighting issues by bringing a flashlight!
4.  Realize this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see JAR jewelry up close and personal

One last comment.  I was disappointed with the JAR items for sale at the Met, available just for the duration of the exhibition.  I really wanted to see small-scale rose or pansy earrings or a ring, pavé set with colored gemstones - something that really looked like JAR jewelry!  The prices ranged from $600 (watches - who thinks of watches when you hear the name JAR?!) to $7,500. 

The white resin Gardenia earrings are beautiful.  And I get it, they are to remind the purchaser of his carved agate flowers, but for $4,000, Ouch!

The Carnaval Venetian glass earrings are $2,000 and didn't say "JAR" to me at all

And the Tickle Me Feather earrings in purple or black resin ($4,000), or 18k gold over aluminum for ($7,500) were beautiful, but very large and very pricey.

Still the best article about JAR was in the Sept 2013 Harper's Bazaar magazine -  The Magic of JAR by Stella Tennant - where Stella Tennant's gorgeous images can be seen. 

And all of these pieces are on exhibit and beautiful beyond compare.

Butterfly brooch of aluminum, diamonds and gold
 Fringe Earrings, banded chalcedony and diamonds
 Weeping-willow pendant earrings of chrysoberyls and diamonds - these were spectacular!

Until my next visit to the Met - I'll just have to dream!


  1. Thank you for my armchair visit to see the Jewels by Jar exhibit. Thanks to Peggy Jo Donahue I found your great post. I loved your advice about the lighting.
    Thank you for the images too.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! Please subscribe to our blog via email, in the column along the righthand side of the page, as we'll only post weekly. Additionally, you can follow Joia Consulting and Joia Gems on Twitter: @joiaconsulting.

    2. Thanks for commenting! Glad you found the blog, and I hope you had the chance to read the first post on JAR as well. And I hope you get to see the exhibit - it's not to be missed - but bring your flashlight! Christine

  2. Christine - your review is so spot on (the many highs and the few unexpected lows) that I linked it to my post on the exhibition. Thanks for the insight on the difficulties in keeping museum exhibits clean - most people, myself included, overlook this and expect everything to spotless, naturally. Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Thanks Natalie! I so enjoy Jewels du Jour - glad to share JoiaGems with you. Let me know if you visit the JAR exhibit again with a flashlight - I think you'll be surprised at the difference!

  3. Muchas gracias por la información, me encantaría visitar la exposición pero estoy un poco lejos.
    Admiro a JAR por sus pavés y por la manera de combinar los colores de las gemas y la coloración del metal (un enigma)

  4. Muchas gracias a usted, Lluis, para sua mensage! Estamos contentos que se lo gusto. Como se entero de nosotros?

  5. I think your points are all good, but I'd like to add something different. I find it exciting that this artist isn't afraid of any material - he uses chestnuts, pebbles, mother-of-pearl, titanium, aluminum in addition to platinum, gold, gems, pearls & coral. He isn't afraid of size - he can make a tiny carrot or a big fat asparagus. He gives me, as a designer, permission to try anything. That's why I don't complain about the merchandise at the show, in fact, I bought some earrings. Women and even little girls were trying it on and it looked fabulous on them! One girl tried on the purple feather resin earrings and announced that purple is her favorite color (she was wearing two shades of purple clothing & she really looked nice in the earrings, gigantic though they are). Her mother was very gracious about asking whether she could photograph the daughter - then the grandmother got into the act, photographing and trying on the earrings for herself. This was so engaging and educational. I bought one of the last pairs of the Venetian glass and titanium wire earrings - because they are becoming, because they are inventive, because they suggest movement, like the see-saw earrings in the show. I didn't expect to feel this positive about JAR. His work speaks for itself.

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