Museum Exhibits: Treasures from JAR by Joel A. Rosenthal

Circa Jewels‘ Jeffrey Singer, Vice President, Director, Core Sales, made a remark that gave me a different perspective of the incredible JAR exhibit I had just viewed at the press preview at the MET.

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Jeffrey pointed out that it was actress Ellen Barkin‘s sale of her massive JAR collection that put JAR and Joel Rosenthal’s name on the mainstream public’s radar. The actress famously put all of the JAR jewelry her ex-husband, Ron Perelman, had gifted her in their six year marriage up for auction with Christie’s. Like many women, Ms. Barkin decided to sell it all. In her case, the jewelry was not a mere diamond solitaire, but 10+ pieces of JAR, valued at over $15 million. Her purge wound up being immensely profitable; Ms. Barkin made bank on her catharsis. According to Forbes, “Christie’s brought the hammer down on a total of $20.4 million (counting the auction house’s commission), in its sale of the jewels Ronald Perelman, No. 40 on Forbes’ 2006 list of the 400 richest Americans” gifted her during the marriage.  Forbes  reported that the Barkin-JAR sale was “the fourth highest single owner sale ever, worldwide.”

Zebra Brooch, 1987 Agate, diamonds, silver, gold Private Collection

Zebra Brooch, 1987 Agate, diamonds, silver, gold Private Collection

The reclusive jeweler remains a friend of Ms. Barkin’s. The only piece of JAR she kept was a ring Mr. Rosenthal had given her as a token of their friendship.

Wild roses by JAR, on the cover of Jewels by Jar, available at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Wild roses by JAR, on the cover of Jewels by Jar, available at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Colorful stories aside, JAR jewels are unique, three-dimensional, and absolutely remarkable. The throngs of editors and photographers who turned up at 10:00a.m. on a Monday morning for the preview were a testament to that. The 400+ pieces at the MET curated by Jane Adklin, feature many signature JAR themes/motifs: butterflies, and flowers as they appear in nature. Some  stand-outs were a diamond bridled zebra brooch, handkerchief earrings, and a mughal ring that resembles Japanese ikura, owned by supermodel, Stephanie Seymour.

Mughal Ring 2008 Rubies, Oriental pearls, diamonds, silver, gold Stephanie Seymour

Mughal Ring
2008
Rubies, Oriental pearls, diamonds, silver, gold
Stephanie Seymour

Mr. Rosenthal and his partner, Pierre Jeannet, continue to work out of their studio next to the JAR boutique on the Place Vendome. JAR produces approximately 100 pieces per year, and visits are by appointment only. To get an insider’s look into the JAR studio and to learn more about Joel Rosenthal, read Cathy Horyn’s profile piece in The New York Times.

The JAR exhibit in Gallery 913 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is open to the public until March 9, 2014 and is absolutely worth a visit [or two]!

- Vivian Kelly -