Jewelry as Art at the Met

By Skye An

The Jewels by JAR exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains more than just eye-catching stones. It showcases a carefully and aesthetically combined selection of jewels assembled as an expression of art.

Joel A. Rosenthal, who works under the name JAR, has his works represent him as a contemporary artist of gems at the Met. Having a personal history of visiting many galleries, antique shops, and auction houses, Rosenthal has become a master of jewelry and color compatibility. His experience shows through his skillful inclusion of bold materials like platinum and aluminum in his vast arsenal.

Rosenthal enjoys experimenting with his materials and demonstrating themes in his work.

Two notable themes at the exhibit include Rosenthal’s focus on butterflies and flowers, in the form of brooches. The petals of his flower jewels seem rugged and imperfect, but it is done so intentionally as to portray flowers in their natural state rather than making them seem too artificial.

Whenever floral elements are involved, usually the petals are heavily focused on. This is not the case for Rosenthal. He focuses on flower buds and falling petals in addition to the flowers in full bloom.

His works also include jewels resembling animals, plants, insects, and even food. The food themed jewels, despite being made out of metal, still manage to appear appetizing.

Welding of metals, using complementary or contrasting colors, and employing clever lighting amidst a dark room to enhance the appearance of the jewels make the Jewels by JAR exhibit a rare opportunity to enjoy such a unique form of art.

The exhibit can even provide inspiration for students, especially ones in the Industrial Design Major. From designing cars, houses, toys, and jewelry to making it into reality requires the consideration of aesthetics.

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