On 1st November 2002, Somerset House, a magnificent 18th century building in central London, home to the Courtauld Institute Gallery, Gilbert Collection and Hermitage Rooms, hosted one of the most important jewellery exhibitions to be held in recent years. The three month retrospective showcased the work of one of the most influential jewellers in the past 100 years. It brought record crowds with "short" lines of one hour during the week, which extended to over two hours during weekends.
The retrospective was that of JAR, Joel Arthur Rosenthal who with his partner, Pierre Jeannet were celebrating their twenty fifth anniversary of being on Place Vendöme in Paris, the cultural home of jewellery. On display were four hundred jewels created by Rosenthal and now lovingly owned by the world's most sophisticated jewellery buyers. The pieces were lent by one hundred forty-five private collectors from all over the world and it is unlikely that such an ensemble will ever be seen again under one roof.
The range of objects was extraordinary, from the rarest of gemstones majestically set into regal jewels to whimsical trivia, such as a sugar cube box in white agate and diamonds, inscribed "Pour que la vie soit douce". However sumptuous, complex or simple, one underlying theme runs through the jewellery of JAR and that is the exceptional craftsmanship and detail attended to each object. Passion and perfectionism are terms freely used in a world that lives through soundbytes and exaggerated sensation, but these are two words that seem to perfectly sum up the extraordinary creativity and drive of this unique individual.
Less than sixty-five jewels by JAR have ever been sold at auction. Each piece is unique, never duplicated and the emerald and gem-set leaf brooch presented here will undoubtedly be the star of the season.
THE PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN TRUST