New York City Jewelry Week 2018: The Met Exhibit’s Must-See Pieces

Everyone’s talking about “Jewelry: The Body Transformed,” which opened Monday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you’ve not yet read JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky’s conversation with curator Melanie Holcomb, do it now. It provides fantastic context ahead of viewing the pieces in person.

This is precisely what I did before attending a tour of the exhibit as part of New York City Jewelry Week, and it helped me to, as Gomelsky suggests, think deeply about the works on display. Because this isn’t an exhibit meant to titillate with gobs of diamonds and rubies, but rather it’s a meditation on jewelry as a cultural and historical phenomenon and a vehicle for personal expression inextricably linked to the contours of our bodies. Walking through the exhibit’s maze of dark chambers, you are also meant to see the jewelry as an enduring, shining testament to our very existence, offering clues to the ways we have lived and organized our societies.

Also important: We have said before that smash museum exhibits tend to have an influence on jewelry creators musing on their next collections and can even dictate consumer trends and tastes. That said, the world may not be ready to embrace an onslaught of necklaces made with vials of human sperm (yes, really). But who knows?

As for my favorite pieces, well, I do tend to be drawn automatically to the glamazons in the room. Here’s a rundown of everything that made my heart flutter, in order of their appearance (all photos are my own).

Met Jewelry Exhibit Georges Fouquet dress ornament
Dress ornament with jade, onyx, enamel, and diamonds in platinum, circa 1923, Georges Fouquet
Met Jewelry Exhibit Crown of the Andes
Colombian Crown of the Andes in repoussé and chased gold and emeralds, circa 1660 (diadem) and circa 1770 (arches)
Met jewelry exhibit Byzantine bracelets
Byzantine gold bracelets with openwork decoration, circa 400
Met jewelry exhibit Alexander Calder necklace
The Jealous Husband necklace in brass wire, 1940, Alexander Calder
Met jewelry exhibit carved emerald brooch
17th-century Mughal period carved emerald, in a brooch by Cartier set with emeralds and sapphires in platinum, circa 1920
Met Jewelry Exhibit Lalique necklace
Necklace with enamel, opals, and amethysts in gold, circa 1897–99, Lalique (also shown at top)
Met jewelry exhibit Paulding Farnham orchid brooch
Orchid brooch with enamel and diamonds in gold, circa 1889–96, Paulding Farnham for Tiffany & Co.
Met jewelry exhibit Oh I am Precious necklace
Oh I am Precious #7 necklace in Mizuhiki (paper cord) and canvas, 1986, Eugene and Hiroko Pijanowski


(Top: Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)


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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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