JAR Jewels and Chinese Snuff Bottles

He is one of the world’s top jewelers and can turn stones into shimmering flowers and butterflies. His work has impeccable quality, virtuous color compositions and dramatic effects. Joel Arthur Rosenthal, a native New Yorker who has been working under the name of JAR in Paris since the 1960s, is notoriously secretive. Unlike his jewel neighbors at the Place Vendôme in Paris, his boutique doesn’t even have a window, much less jewels displayed for all to see. So, it’s a special event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to present an exhibit devoted to his work.  Jewels by JAR running from November 20, 2013–March 9, 2014 in Gallery 913 will feature more than four hundred works by Rosenthal, including his delicate blossoms, leaves and “witty objets d’art”.  

Jar-Parfumssnuff-bottle

Once you’ve had enough of JAR’s diamonds, sapphires, garnets, topazes, and rubies, you can walk over to Bergdorf Goodman (754 5th Ave) and try his collection of fragrances at the in-store boutique. Don’t miss Golconda, a bigger than life carnation, and Bolt of Lightning, an equally dramatic tuberose.

While you’re walking around the Met, don’t miss a charming exhibit on Chinese snuff bottles. Small Delights : Chinese Snuff Bottles runs until February 17, 2014 in Gallery 207. It lets you discover the miniature masterpieces that influenced many perfume bottle designers, including Pierre Dinand and his famous bottle for Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium.

Snuff, inhaled for its stimulating effect, is a mixture of powdered tobacco leaves, aromatic herbs and spices. The intricately designed portable containers soon became fashionable at the Chinese court. Small Delights presents bottles spanning several centuries of the Qing dynasty (1644—1911), and whether in stone, porcelain, ivory, lacquer, or metalwork, each object is exquisite.

To find out more, please check the Met website.

Extra: a New York Times article by Cathy Horyn, For a Jeweler, All That Bedazzles.

Images: JAR Bolt of Lightning perfume bottle; Snuff Bottle with European Woman and Child, 18th century, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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27 Comments

  • Anne of Green Gables: That snuff bottle is so cute! It’s fascinating to see the Occidentalism portrayed on the snuff bottle and some of the other bottles in the collection (since I don’t live anywhere near New York, I just visited the website). Some of the people painted have Asian faces but are dressed up in Western style clothing! It’s refreshing to see the opposite of the Orientalism widely portrayed in Western art, music and perfumes. November 14, 2013 at 7:58am Reply

    • Victoria: I thought so too. It’s fascinating how the art of porcelain and fine ceramics traveled from China to Europe and then back. The Met curates its exhibits so well, and I always learn something new. Too bad I’m so far away! November 14, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

  • Martha: I adore small, handmade masterpieces such as the snuff bottle you include in your post. In fact, I am completely attracted to miniatures of just about anything. As I continue on my journey as a new perfumista I read about JAR from time to time and I think that I need to find some samples of the perfume. What do you suggest as a good starter? I do enjoy carnation so perhaps Golconda? November 14, 2013 at 8:48am Reply

    • Victoria: I never realized how interesting these snuff bottles could be. But some of them are so intricate and delicate, and many complex techniques could be used on something so tiny.
      Golconda is definitely a good place to start. The rest of the collection is nice enough, but Golconda is memorable, especially since carnations are few and far between these days. November 14, 2013 at 10:08am Reply

  • Ines: Sometime in the future (when I have a lot of money), I’m getting that Bolt of Lightning for myself. 🙂
    I was stunned by that perfume. 🙂

    I do wish I was closer though so I could go and see the exhibit… November 14, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

    • Victoria: It really lives up to its name! I don’t know if it’s something I would wear that often, but I when I lived in NYC, I would stop by the Bergdorg Goodman boutique to smell JAR perfumes time to time. I would then ask to be perfumed with either Bolt of Lightning or Golconda. November 14, 2013 at 10:39am Reply

      • Ines: Yes, it does!
        Which I found incredible as several months before I actually wrote a post on how I’d love for someone to bottle the smell of air after an early summer storm when you can smell the wet dirt and electricity in the air – and then comes the Bolt of Lightning. 🙂
        How they managed to do it around tuberose is one of my many wonders when it comes to that perfume. November 14, 2013 at 10:48am Reply

        • Victoria: Not sure if you’ve tried Annick Goutal’s Un Matin d’Orage, but it also makes me think of a blooming garden after a summer downpour. Not as lush as JAR’s version though! November 14, 2013 at 11:44am Reply

          • Ines: I did, and it reminds me more of my grandmother’s garden after a storm. There are similarities (the storm) but the Bolt is the one I imagined brought to life. 🙂
            Do you know how much it costs? I was even scared to ask… November 14, 2013 at 2:52pm Reply

            • Victoria: I’ve never asked, because I suspected that it would be astronomical. I prefer to admire them at the store. 🙂 November 15, 2013 at 6:57am Reply

      • Maria: Is JAR boutique inside Bergdorf Goodman store? November 14, 2013 at 11:26am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, it’s on the beauty level, not too far from the escalators going up. November 14, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

  • Maria: My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to New York soon and the Met Museum is on our list. I’ll have to check out these two exhibits. Thanks! November 14, 2013 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: There is so much to do in NYC, and although I returned only recently, I’m envious your trip. 🙂 November 14, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • Amer: wish I lived in NY… November 14, 2013 at 3:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: The Met alone is worth a visit. November 15, 2013 at 6:57am Reply

  • sisty: A few years ago, the JAR boutique at Bergdorf’s had some of the jewelry available, and I tried on those geranium-leaf earrings. They were exquisite in a way I can’t describe.

    And I sat down and did the sniff test ritual, also — but I don’t remember what I ended up trying on! Oh well, I’ll be in New York over Thanksgiving so maybe I’ll get another chance. November 14, 2013 at 3:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: I only saw them in the case, and they looked so beautiful. He also has an ornament shaped like lilac blossoms, and that looks like it should be displayed in a museum. I guess, now with the Met exhibit, it might be! November 15, 2013 at 6:59am Reply

  • Annikky: I’m not that interested in jewelery, but I have always liked JAR’s work. His pieces are not just exquisite, but more creative and free-form than most other precious jewelery, which tends to be very conservative. I haven’t tried any of his fragrances, although Bolt of Lightning sounds very intriguing.

    The snuff bottles are exactly my kind of thing! I love applied art, especially pieces from Asian and Arab countries. November 15, 2013 at 2:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Neither am I! I don’t even wear my engagement ring. But something beautifully made is always nice to look at, and JAR’s works have whimsy as well as style. I also find it fascinating that he didn’t train as a jeweler and only discovered his talent much later. November 15, 2013 at 7:04am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: It took me a long time to get past JAR’s obnoxious mystique- the rudeness, the bogus exclusivity, etc. but when I saw his “Lilac” brooc, I knew he was as brilliant as people say he is. November 15, 2013 at 5:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: The Bergdorf Goodman boutique staff is always very nice, and I don’t look a bit like a JAR customer or someone who could afford their perfumes, much less their jewels.
      And yes, that lilac brooch is stunning. November 17, 2013 at 9:29am Reply

  • Andrea Marie: I just tried those earrings on last year! My mom and I were in NYC and did “the JAR experience”. The very kind gentleman who was showing us the perfumes encouraged us to try on some of the earring line. It was funny to see them pictured here, exactly a year from when I visited Bergdorfs… November 16, 2013 at 9:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like it was a fun visit! It’s a little oasis amid the busy beauty department. November 17, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

  • Daisy: I am so looking forward to this! I have exactly the date you described with the mom of a friend of mine next weekend: sniffing JAR at Bergdorfs followed by a walk in the park on our way to the Met to see the show. Can’t wait! Thank you for further whetting my appetite 🙂 November 17, 2013 at 5:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: It would be a fun day! By the way, I just update the post with a link from the New York Times on the exhibit. I hope that I can make it there too. November 17, 2013 at 6:00pm Reply

  • Tintin: It’s kind of weird to see occidental faces on chinese snuff bottles. It’s like what are they doing there?.. I am a Chinese but I’ve never seen works like these before. December 6, 2013 at 1:31pm Reply

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