Jewellery designer Joel Arthur Rosenthal’s exquisite creations for his brand JAR have earned him the title ‘the Fabergé of our time.’ Born in New York City in 1943, Rosenthal graduated in art history from Harvard in 1966 before moving to Paris. He initially worked in the film industry, and then opened a needlepoint shop, where his clients included Hermès and Valentino. His work with multicoloured yarns would have a lasting effect on his jewellery designs. After working with Bulgari in New York, he returned to Paris and opened a shop in the Place Vendôme in 1977. His initials, JAR, were the only source of identification on the façade.
Rosenthal works with his partner Pierre Jeannet to create intricate jewellery, superbly crafted in unique settings. His rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and brooches are meticulous and imaginative. He pairs unusual gemstones with non-traditional materials and has a daring way with colour and proportion. The quality of his work recalls the jewellery of the 18th and 19th centuries. Only 70 to 80 jewels are created each year by the brand, for an exclusive clientele. In 2013, Rosenthal was the first living ‘artist of gems’ to be honoured with a retrospective at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
JAR jewellery has featured in some of the most illustrious private collections of jewellery sold by Christie’s. This includes those of Elizabeth Taylor, Anne Getty and Lily Safra. When Ellen Barkin’s jewellery collection sold at Christie’s in October 2006, it included 17 jewels by JAR. This made it at the time one of the most important JAR collections to have appeared at auction. Barkin calls JAR ‘the Matisse of our time’ and credits him with teaching her how to wear jewellery.
Christie’s Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence auction in June 2019 was a landmark sale of Indian jewellery, jewelled objects and art from the renowned Al Thani museum collection. Only two contemporary jewellers, JAR and Bhagat, featured. An elephant brooch by JAR was one of the standout pieces, adorned with a Belle Époque-style diamond aigrette.