An Inside Look at the Museum of Modern Art’s New Exhibit ‘Jewels by JAR’

Want to see some jar-dropping jewels? Then run to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Jewels by JAR.

Just who is JAR? Well, he’s a bit mysterious: very little was disclosed at the press conference about him, and though you would think he would have attended the premiere of his exhibition, he didn’t.

In fact, JAR is actually Joel A. Rosenthal. Born and raised in New York, and educated at Harvard, Rosenthal moved to Paris right after graduating, where he founded his jewelry atelier over 20 years ago in a secret location in Place Vendome.


There has been some serious buzz around JAR in the fashion and jewelry worlds, and the pieces on display at the MET confirmed why. As I walked into the velvety darkness of the gallery and peeked into the glowing cases, I realized that the swooning admiration for JAR has not been overstated. The pieces are beyond anything I have ever seen. Sure, there are some amazing feats of jewelry out there, but nothing to rival the volume, breadth and size of JAR’s creations.


It became clear JAR is the pavé king; the work involved in creating these objects of beauty by hand is undoubtedly time consuming, to say the least. But JAR seems joyful in his love of beauty and nature, and there is an effortlessness in his work, even considering his surgical approach.

Indeed, his love of nature is obvious. There are flowers and branches rendered in metal and carpeted with gems. Apricot blossoms, pavé camellias, clover, carnations, pansies, lily and freesia are just some of the flowers that JAR has recreated.

One of the most outstanding pieces was a diamond snowflake cluster with twelve 1-inch flakes strung together to make a winter wonderland brooch, the perfect centerpiece for a little black dress.

JAR’s love affair with nature also encompasses the animal kingdom, as seen with swan’s head earrings in diamonds, coral sapphires, steel, silver and gold. There is also an owl brooch made of fire opal, an elephant made of agate pearls and diamonds, and a flourish of butterflies that look poised to escape the gallery en masse.

Most of the pieces are large for fine jewelry and would work as a coffee table conversation piece just as well as if they were worn on the body.

Jewels by JAR will capture your fancy, and it was a treat to spend time in awe of his talent and fearlessness. More sculptor than pure jeweler, his creations go beyond just adornment, into the decorative arts.

Jewels by Jar will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from November 20 through March 9, 2014.