The Gemological Institute of America’s newest museum exhibit, “Gems in Art: Art in Gems,” presents an array of gemstones and other gem material whose natural beauty takes on even greater appeal as an art form. This “gem art” is on display in the Mikimoto Rotunda of GIA’s world headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., through Oct. 31, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Mon.-Fri., except holidays.
The exhibit focuses on the various ways gems can be used as a medium for artistic expression, says Elise Misiorowski, G.G., GIA’s museum director. Featured are several categories, consisting of cameos and intaglios, natural carvings, boxes and bottles (known as objets de virtu), fantasy and abstract carvings, objets d’art, and “wearable art” jewelry. Both antique and contemporary examples are emphasized to demonstrate how the lapidary arts have evolved over the last two centuries.
Various antique pieces provide the historical context of the exhibit, including 19th-century cameos. A few pieces by Fabergé, who produced jeweled flowers in rock crystal “water glasses” to brighten his clients’ spirits during long Russian winters, also are displayed. Detailed gem engravings in the exhibit are featured as well.
Abstract and fantasy carvings represent the exhibit’s contemporary perspective, with pieces from featured artists, including Michael Dyber, Glenn Lehrer, and Steve Walters. Gem art pieces designed by the “Father of Fantasy Cuts,” Bernd Munsteiner, who is recognized for introducing abstract cutting in the 1980s, are also highlighted.
The exhibit also includes remarkable carvings of natural subjects such as birds, fish, animals, and people. Functional gemstone art objects such as scent bottles and boxes complement the display.