If there was ever a perfect example of why jewelry should be called art that you can wear, it would be the life’s work of Joel Arthur Rosenthal.
Rosenthal, working under the name JAR, is the first living jeweler to have a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and 400 pieces made over a span of 35 years are on display. He is renowned as much for his exceptional vision and execution skills as for his unusual business practices and personality. From his by-appointment Parisian shop, the secretive jeweler makes 100-120 wonderfully lush designs a year of his, not his client’s, choosing. The use of color, how the piece balances when worn, and the 3D effect of texture executed in gemstones is unparalleled, and has to be seen to be believed. It is only the second exhibition of his pieces and the first was an infamous London show in 2002 where all the lights were off and guests were given flashlights. The lights are on this time so you will get a good look at stunning jewelry that has mostly been loaned by his clients, but also come from the maison itself and the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
Two fantastic interviews have been published recently that give some unusual insight into the mysterious jeweler. Vanessa Friedman of the Financial Times sat down with Rosenthal over peanut butter sandwiches in the Hamptons while Cathryn Horn of the New York Times chatted with him in Paris. It’s possible that they will be the last interviews until another exhibition comes up, whenever that may be.
The doors open to the public Wednesday, November 20, and the exhibition runs until March 9, 2014.