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Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Look Inside the ‘Jewels By JAR’ Met Museum Exhibition

The darkened JAR exhibition space. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

While stumbling in the dark bumping into other journalists (not literally but close) during the press preview of the “Jewels by JAR” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a common theme emerged. It changed how they view jewelry. The room was dark, the jewelry (art works really) glowed in the orange and red display cases and dazzled nearly all who saw them.

Orange Peel Brooch, 2001; Garnets, diamonds, enamel, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

One prominent jewelry writer told me she doesn’t think she can ever wear jewelry again after seeing the 400 pieces on display. My lovely wife, who gets to view a lot of jewelry because of my work, no longer bothers to look at pieces that she now views as inferior.

Three Seashell Brooches, From top: Oriental pearls, diamonds, platinum, silver, gold; private collection, 2006. Spinels, rubies, silver, gold; private collection, 1990. and Spinels, diamonds, silver, gold; private collection, 2009. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco 

That’s the thing about viewing jewelry (or anything) that is truly unique as those created by Joel A. Rosenthal, who of course is the man behind JAR. It increases your knowledge of a subject. It increases the possibilities of what can be done with a strong philosophy and dedication to that core value. It changes how you view everything. It can even redefine the things you value.

Rose Brooch, 2013; rubies, sapphires, spinels, diamonds, silver, gold; private Collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Not everyone got it. One person whom I know well came up to me in the dark and said she didn’t understand why the room had to be darkened. She didn’t get the jewelry. She didn’t understand how someone with absolutely no pedigree in the luxury jewelry world can suddenly move to Paris, set up shop at Place Vendôme, perhaps the world’s most famous shopping district, and gain such a reputation among the world’s wealthiest and most demanding jewelry buyers.

Lilac Brooches, 2001–2; diamonds, garnets, sapphires, aluminum, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

These are all fair questions that I’ve wondered about. It is unlikely we will ever get an answer. Rosenthal rarely gives interviews. He agreed to give a select few interviews for the exhibition, which opened Wednesday, including one with Vanessa Friedman of the Financial Times. She observed that Rosenthal pretty much does “what he wants, when he wants, for who he wants,” makes others in the creative professions envious. However, she added, “It is hard to know the kind of sacrifices it really demands.”

Snowflake Brooch, 2002; diamonds, platinum, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

There was something that Rosenthal said in that interview that struck me.“I don’t care what the world thinks of me. But do I care, very deeply, what the people I care about think.”

This to me is an expression of the sacrifices he has made, his loyalty to those who has helped him achieve his vision, and how he feels about those who told him his concept of jewelry design as art would never work.

Five-Row Diamond Necklace with Pendant Ring, 1999; diamonds, platinum; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

In the darkness of the room with the glow of lights from the displays, I had no idea how my photographs would come out. I'm happily surprised.

The retrospective of Rosenthal's 35-year career as the head of JAR will run till March 9, 2014.

Five Wild Rose Brooches, 1991; Oriental pearls, rubies, sapphires, amethysts, garnets, citrines, diamonds, platinum, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes Website.


Bow Knot Brooch, 2012; diamonds, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Ribbons Bracelet, 1990; diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Top: Moon and Stars Pendant Earrings, 2011; sapphires, diamonds, silver, gold; private collection. Bottom: Pendant Earrings, 2011; sapphires, diamonds, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Wall of butterflies. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Pendant Earrings, 2012; zircons, diamonds, platinum; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Drop Pendant Earrings, 2012; diamonds, platinum, silver; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Sheep's Head Brooch, 1997; sapphires, aluminum, gold; Suzanne Syz. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Top: Owl Brooches, 2011; fire opals, aluminum, gold; private collection. Bottom: Swan's Head Earrings, 1987; diamonds, coral, sapphires, steel, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

From left: Pendant Earrings, 2010; spinel, Oriental pearl, diamonds, rubies, platinum; private collection. Elephant Brooch, 1987; agate, Oriental pearls, diamonds, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Lily of the Valley Brooch, 1991; Oriental pearl, diamonds, platinum, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Oak Leaf and Acorn Earrings, 1990; Wood, gold; Susan K Gutfreund. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Necklace, 2005; diamonds, ribbon, silver, gold; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Pendant Earrings, 2013; chalcedony, diamonds, platinum, gold; Private collection. This is one of JAR's latest creations. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Tulip Brooch, 2008; rubies, diamonds, sapphires, garnets, silver, gold, enamel; private collection. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Handkerchief Earrings, 2005; diamonds, silver, gold; private collection.  Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

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