In a recent video by my favorite French fashion journalist, reporter, and film director Loïc Prigent, presenting the latest exhibit of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs titled “Luxes,” I came across the name and the on-display creation of a man whom I embarrassingly did not know of, and at least I was tempted to read a few more things about and share them with you. According to Wikipedia, “Joel Arthur Rosenthal is an American jeweler who works in Paris where he founded the fine jewelry firm JAR. He has been called “the Faberge of our time,” in a Forbes feature. Born in 1943 in the Bronx, Joel Arthur Rosenthal is the only son of a postman and a teacher in biology. He studied art history and philosophy at Harvard University and speaks French, Italian, English, and Yiddish. He then moved to Paris, where he worked as a screenwriter, then as a needle-stitcher, opening a small shop. He experimented with unusually colored yarn. Its clientele included designers from Hermès and Valentino. Rosenthal one day was asked if he could design a mount for a gemstone. That sent his career in a new direction. After a short stint as a salesman in the New York store of Bulgari, he returned to Paris in 1977 and began designing pieces there from affordable materials, such as coral, moonstone, and minute colored diamond. Quick success led the self-taught Rosenthal to open a non-descript salon at 7 Place Vendôme, where he still hosts his loyal clients.”
His atelier has no sign, and appointments are only made for his customers, some of their friends, and certain members of the elite. His intricate, precious, and whimsical creations are mostly inspired by flora and fauna, hand-crafted with utmost precision as compositions of minuscule colored gemstones in pavé arrangements and other unexpected materials. The pieces he produces annually are in the tens, and they are all one-of-a-kind. He is the only living fine jewelry artist who has had a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Mixing old and new techniques, he is more than a jewelry legend; not a household name but definitely la crème de la crème in his métier.
About the exhibition…
Following “Ten Thousand Years of Luxury,” designed in partnership with the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2019, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs presents “Luxes.” The exhibition (until May 2, 2021) offers a journey through time and geography, combining moments of contemplation and more monumental scansions, offering each of the 100 works presented the most relevant space for delight and understanding.