When reading Anthony DeMarco’s blog, Jewelry News Network, I came across a piece of news that caught my attention: the upcoming auction of philanthropist Lily Safra jewelry collection at Christie’s. If you want, you can read the full article here.
There were a few triggers for my attention: Jewelry collection, a phrase that works for me just like “cookies” for the cookie monster; a note of the collector’s refined taste and its evolution as years went by, oh curiosity…; and JAR, the little three letter word that evokes mystery & myth in the jewelry world!
So, this killed my productivity, basically. I spent the whole working day fishing for more information on the collection and JAR himself.
My searches on the most famous secretive jewelry designer of the modern days, Joel Arthur Rosenthal, were more or less frustrating. All you get is second hand information – remember, secretive – so when I went to bed I couldn’t help feeling philosophical about it: all I knew was I knew nothing…
Not to feel so bad, I decided to organize my ignorance around themes. Here they go:
First: truth or myth – does JAR exist?
This is a key question, you have to agree. Nobody has seen him, there are no photos, all you have is “he said, she said” … a girl has to wonder. Still, somebody is designing the most amazing jewelry under the name JAR. Maybe I am being too sceptical.
Second: what was the trigger – why does an American college graduate (Harvard) choose to become a jeweler in Paris?
This is unusual as a direction. Two of the best jewelry designers of the 20th century did exactly the opposite – Verdura and Schlumberger. But Place Vendôme is the epicentre of high jewelry, as Lorenz Baümer says “if you are serious about jewelry you have to be Place Vendôme”.
Talking about Lorenz Baümer, why is it that most of the really relevant and innovative jewelry designers tend to have very unorthodox career paths? Is it a cosmic requirement?
Third: how does it grow – from where does JAR draw his inspiration?
Is it nature? It could be, there are many pieces in the shape of flowers or butterflies. But there are also very sculptural pieces. So, is it art? Whatever it is, the resulting jewels are always very delicate. The thinnest bands, the finest pavé, the intricate ropes around a diamond showcase a unique sensibility for gems and metal as well as female beauty.
As comments about his temper filter through the web, I am also very curious about how much customers have to say in the process of creation of commissioned pieces. Do they get to say “I would like a ring, please” or not?
Fourth: Why do so many of his creations end up at auction, if it’s so hard to purchase them in the first place?
How can these lucky women part with such special jewels? Lily Safra has put 18 pieces of jewelry by JAR up for auction. In the past, Ellen Barkin parted with 17 pieces of her own collection. Maybe it is petty of me but I don’t understand.
Nevertheless, I am grateful it happens otherwise it would be very difficult to see JAR’s work and all jewelry lovers around the globe would be poorer for that.
Fifth: Where in the world can I get an introduction to visit the mysterious unmarked Place Vendôme shop?
You see, the first question is killing me!