Starting today, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is showcasing hundreds of pieces from jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal. His line, JAR, only produces 80-90 dazzling pieces a year, which makes them even more precious.
Rosenthal was born in Bronx, but, after graduating from Harvard, decided to move to Paris to work on jewelry making. His store on the Place Vedome opened in 1978 (it’s still there) and the Metropolitan Museum notes, “Very early in his career, Rosenthal revealed his superb sense of color, whether in the hue of an exotic violet sapphire, the shimmer of topaz and ruby, or the simple clarity of a perfect diamond. His works quickly became known for their unique design, the quality of their stones, and their remarkable craftsmanship, but above all for their fearless beauty. He is known for his pavé technique—the setting of small stones so close together that they appear as a continuous surface of jewels—and uses subtle gradations of color to create a painterly effect.”
A 2006 Forbes article noted how attaining a JAR piece can be difficult, since Rosenthal “reserves the right to refuse to sell an item if he doesn’t think it would look good on the intended wearer.” When Ellen Barkin auctioned off her 17 JAR pieces, given to her by ex-husband mogul Ron Perelman, they went for well-above estimates: “[A] pair of topaz, ruby and diamond ear pendants the actress had worn to Oscar parties, was estimated to go for a high of $80,000, but instead fetched a whopping $710,000.”
Rosenthal frequently channels nature for inspiration, with flowers, sea forms and animals becoming gorgeous wearable art. This is the first time his work has been exhibited in the United States (he was previously featured at Somerset Hosue in 2002) and this show at the Met devoted to a contemporary artist of gems.