No retrospective of any contemporary artist of gems has ever been featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, until now. Through March 9, 2014, the Museum displays more than 400 works by renowned jewelry designer Joel A. Rosenthal, who are better known by his initials JAR. The exhibition is the first retrospective in the United States of his work.
“We are not afraid of any materials,” said Rosenthal. The designer takes unique approach. He uses metals as strong as platinum and as lightweight as aluminum as bases. Rosenthal also reintroduced the use of silver in fine jewelry making and blackened the metal to enhance the color of the stones and the shine of the diamonds. His two significant design themes are flowers and butterflies, often in the form of brooches.
Rosenthal grew up in Bronx, New York. He attended Harvard University and moved to Paris shortly after his graduation in 1966. It was in Paris that Rosenthal met Pierre Jeannet - The other half of the JAR story. The two first opened a needlepoint shop – For Rosenthal needlepoint meant painting, mainly flowers, on a white canvas and playing with the palette of the colors of the woods. In 1976, Rosenthal moved back to New York to work at Bulgari but returned to Paris and decided to open his own jewelry business. JAR was opened in 1978 first on the Place Vendôme but then relocated to a larger space next door to better cater to their growing client base. They also expanded the team to include the few exceptional craftsmen still specializing in this field.
In conjunction with the exhibition, JAR has designed a unique collection of earrings and watches for the Museum.
Multicolored Handkerchief earrings, 2011, with sapphires, demantoid and other garnets, zircons, tourmalines, emeralds, rubies, fire opals, spinels, beryls, diamond, platinum, silver and gold. Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris.
Colored Balls necklace, 1999, with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts, spinels, garnets, opals, tourmaline, aquamarines, citrine, diamond, silver and gold. Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris.
Butterfly brooch, 1994, with sapphire, fire opals, rubies, amethyst, diamonds, silver and gold. Photograph by Katharina Faerber. Courtesy of JAR, Paris.
Poppy Brooch, 1982, with tourmaline, diamond and gold. Photograph by Katharina Faerber. Courtesy of JAR, Paris.
Cameo and Rose Petal brooch, 2011, with rubies, diamonds, silver and gold. Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris.