Jeweler Jean Schlumberger Celebrated in Pair of Museum Exhibits

“Jewels of the Imagination,” an exhibit of more than 135 pieces of jewelry and objects by legendary jeweler Jean Schlumberger, is traveling from its home at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va., to the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla.—where it will be on view from Dec. 15 to March 31, 2019.

The show’s Florida debut will mark the opening of a complimentary exhibition—”Drawn to Beauty”—that spotlights Schlumberger’s drawings and other artworks.

The collection of important jewels hails from the estate of American socialite, horticulturist, gardener, philanthropist, and art collector Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon—whose many accomplishments include designing the White House Rose Garden. Mellon’s collection comprises the largest and most extensive public collection of works by the artist. She was a muse of Schlumberger’s, and her love of gardening inspired several of the jeweler’s botanical pieces, and the two were frequent collaborators.

Mellon, and later her estate, donated her Schlumberger-designed jewels and objects to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts between the years 1985 and 2015.

Jean Schlumberger jewelry exhibit
Jean Schlumberger pieces from the “Jewels of the Imagination” exhibit

Schlumberger is known for his exquisite output as head designer for Tiffany & Co., but he started out as a designer for famed couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, where he created jewels to accompany her collections.

In 1956, Schlumberger joined Tiffany & Co. and all but revolutionized the jewelry world with his witty, opulent, nature-inspired designs—which were worn by the day’s fashion superstars, including Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Vreeland, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Babe Paley.

“Drawn to Beauty” will feature jewels, sketches, photographs, objets d’art, and personal items belonging to the artist. Many of the items have been borrowed from the Tiffany & Co. archives and private collections and have never before been seen by the public.

Top: Jean Schlumberger at work (all photos courtesy of the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts)

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JCK Magazine Editor