Field Trip: Fashion Jewelry – The Collection of Barbara Berger at MAD

After a rainy lunchtime meeting with a client in the Diamond District last week the clouds parted, the sun broke through, and I decided it was high time I took a walk to check out the Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD).

Fashion Jewelry Insta

Featuring over 450 jewelry pieces from Barbara Berger’s astounding 4,000+ piece personal collection, this exhibition curated by Harrice Simons Miller is the result of over 50 years of collecting. The daughter of a diamond merchant, Barbara purchased her first pair of Chanel earrings at a flea market as a teenager and never looked back. “I buy what I like and it’s usually love at first sight,” Barbara says in her book that showcases over 200 of the pieces from the exhibit.

Coco Chanel book quote Insta

Walking through the exhibit is like being inside of Barbara’s jewelry box. Adding to this feeling, MAD showcases the pieces not only in standing glass displays, but also in rows and rows of pull out drawers. Each time you open another drawer the surprise of what you might find is elating. It is a very intimate experience to see the jewelry pieces that have special meaning to Barbara. Along with the item descriptions there is also a handy audio tour that you can listen to on your mobile device while strolling the exhibit.

Gong necklace Insta

This 24 karat gold and brass piece from 1987 is dubbed the “gold cymbals necklace” in my mind, but is actually titled Gong (not that far off) by Robert Lee Morris. It was a gift from the artist to Barbara in 1995, and I just love the layered movement of the brass circles in the necklace. I could imagine this with a fantastic strapless tribal or floral print dress and sandals. Or a crisp white dress shirt and fitted black skirt. The possibilities are endless!

Butcher paper pink Insta

I am IN LOVE with this necklace by Swiss artist Verena Sieber-Fuchs. This untitled piece from 1988 may seem to be created from delicate feathers plucked from a magical pink bird, but it is in fact created from butcher paper and silver wire. How amazing is that? Each thin slice of paper gives a light, fluffy, and utterly feminine feeling. Couldn’t you imagine a ballerina wearing this to mimic the plume of her tutu? So ethereal!

Etro necklace Insta

This necklace made by Etro (an Italian company) in 1990 is created from velvet and metal, and for me it evokes the crisp and cool beginning of autumn. Maybe it’s the velvet, or the jewel-toned hues (especially the deep burgundy) that remind me of falling leaves and the start of sweaters and jeans. I also appreciate that this necklace is not perfectly symmetrical in its design. Just a fun and playful piece!

Chanel feather neck Insta

If the pink butcher paper “feather” necklace was my favorite piece of the exhibit, this metal feather necklace by Chanel might be my second favorite. I adore the asymmetrical design of the feathers on this, which I can just imagine laying exquisitely over the right shoulder of the wearer. It is simple but completely fabulous.

I could go on and on with photos of the jewelry at this exhibit, there were just so many interesting pieces. I really appreciate how wide-ranging Barbara’s taste is. She can have light and feminine pieces like some of those above, and then you turn the corner and you see this necklace by Daniel Von Weinberger:

Imprisoned in Fluo Insta

Titled “Imprisoned in Fluo”, this necklace is a conglomeration of plastic toys, from glow-in-the-dark frogs to a masked superhero caught in the footbed of a rubbery pink shoe. Even if it’s not your taste to wear for a night out on the town, it’s fun to look through it and see all the little pieces tangled within.

After delighting over all the interesting jewelry I made my way up to the sixth floor, which has both a learning center and a workroom for the current artist-in-residence. The learning center is a bit like walking into summer camp — several tables topped with all kinds of creative supplies. My favorite area was the jewelry making table, of course. Super inviting cups and bins full of beads, sequins, and unusual cast offs were available to string and wire wrap. After seeing all the fantastic costume jewelry from the exhibit my creativity was peaked and I was ready to dig in. I made this fun necklace, and it took everything in my power not to just stay there all day and create more:

Molly necklace Insta

After prying myself from the crafts table (seriously, make sure to hang out up there if you go to see the exhibit) I went to the room next door to see what the artist-in-residence was doing. That day it was David Mandel, a jewelry designer who has several pieces in the Fashion Jewelry exhibit. Having created jewelry for theater and live events for over twenty years, you may have seen his larger-than-life pieces in the 2012 Victoria’s Secret runway show:

Photo courtesy of MAD

Photo courtesy of MAD

David was wonderful to speak with, and I was especially fond of the piece he is currently working on in the artist’s room, a jewelry shirt called Urban Grind:

Jewelry Shirt Insta

 And here is the back (in somewhat different lighting):

Jewelry Shirt Back Insta

The vertical jewelry strips in this shirt are detachable, and with hooks along the neckline that means that this shirt is completely customizable. Mix and match sections of the shirt to create a different look each day. Isn’t that so innovative and fun? Also, note the plastic googly eyes within the design. When wearing a jewelry shirt it’s important not to take yourself too seriously!

As I said, there are a million more pieces from the exhibit that I would love to show you, but that would ruin the fun of seeing it yourself! The exhibition will run at MAD until January 20th, 2014, but some portions will close on September 22nd, so if you are in NYC make sure to check it out before then.

Have you already checked out the exhibit? What was one of your favorite pieces? Did you try and pick up one of the Barbara Berger books on display only to find it was glued to the table to prevent stealing? Yeah, I didn’t either 😉

P.S. Although I mention the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous jewelry!

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Magnificent Jewels at Christie’s – April 2013 (With Results!)

Yesterday you heard all about my trip to the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction. Let’s continue the story! After seeing all those sparkly jewels uptown, I made my way down to the Diamond District, which Christie’s is nestled next to on 49th Street. Lovely gold detail on the wall as you enter the exhibition:

Christie's wall Insta

Christie’s was packed when I got there. Plenty of tourists as well as serious buyers were checking out the jewelry. Christie’s also took inspiration from the flowering trees in NYC and had lovely bouquets of cherry blossoms and white tulips. It really is such a nice touch!

Lot #199, “A Diamond Necklace, by William Goldberg”, estimated at $300,000 – $500,000 USD:

Lot #199 Insta

I love that there is every shape of diamond in this double-strand necklace — oval, emerald-cut, marquis, pear-shape, cushion, round, and heart-shape. And while just a single strand of this would be beautiful, the grace of the double strands makes this necklace even more special. A really beautiful piece!

PRICE REALIZED: $363,750 USD

 

Lot #22, “An Antique Gold Parure”, estimated at $10,000 – $15,000 USD:

Lot #22 Insta

This case, which was gorgeous in its own right, has a necklace, two bracelets, a brooch, a pair of ear pendants, and a tiara. The whole set was a work of art! You wouldn’t even need to wear the jewelry, just set out the case for people to swoon over. There were some spots where the metal was tarnished or worn away, but it didn’t matter. Still impressive!

PRICE REALIZED: $13,750 USD

 

Lot #98, “A Diamond Ring, by Harry Winston”, estimated at $250,000 – $350,000 USD:

Lot #98 Insta

Yep, that’s my hand. When I say I fell in love with this ring, it’s a complete understatement. Usually I just look at the jewelry when they take it out of the case, maybe try it on a little, and then go on my merry way to the next case. This one, I put it on my finger, and it fit perfectly. It felt like some Cinderella-glass-slipper magic. Plus, the proportions of it on my hand are perfect. Sigh. I actually took it off my finger quickly after taking this photo so that I wouldn’t get too attached. Oh, you probably want to know more about the actual diamond? This is a modified cushion-cut diamond weighing approximately 10.24 carats, is E color, with VS2 clarity. I really hope that the person who purchased it loves it and wears it as much as I wish I could!

PRICE REALIZED: $423,750 USD

 

Lot #40, “A Colored Diamond Ring”, estimated at $60,000 – $80,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This heart-shaped light yellow diamond weighs approximately 8.86 carats, and is mounted in yellow and white gold. I love how wide the shoulders of the heart are — it gives the ring a young, fun, playful feel. The yellow hue was very striking in person.

PRICE REALIZED: $105,750 USD

 

Lot #70, “An Art Deco Diamond and Onyx Bracelet”, estimated at $20,000 – $30,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This diamond and onyx bracelet, set in platinum, was produced circa 1925. Isn’t it so fantastically graphic? It’s exactly what I imagine when I think of art-deco. It would look great with a flapper dress!

PRICE REALIZED: $43,750 USD

 

There are several pieces of jewelry that I want to show you that were on special display, but they are part of the Geneva Christie’s auction in May. So let’s save them for a few weeks from now, that way we have something to swoon over during the five month stretch until the next jewelry auction season in September!

The last, most amazing diamond of the auction was “The Princie” Diamond, Lot #295:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This extraordinary 34.65 carat cushion-cut Fancy Intense Pink diamond was the most buzzed about jewel of the entire auction. Heralding from the ancient Golconda mines in South Central India, this beauty was originally owned by the Nizams of Hyderabad. It was first auctioned in 1960 and purchased by Van Cleef & Arpels for £46,000 (the equivalent of $1.3 million USD today). It was named “The Princie” after the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, India, who was in attendance at a Van Cleef party in their Paris store in 1960 with his mother. A fun phenomenon of this diamond is that it flouresces a bright orange color when exposed to UV radiation. Christie’s says this is the largest pink stone to display this characteristic. But let’s get to the part we’re all dying to know — how much did it sell for???

PRICE REALIZED: $39,323,750 USD (world auction record for a Golconda diamond)

This diamond was purchased by an anonymous bidder, and aside from breaking the Golconda diamond world record, it is also the most expensive diamond ever sold at Christie’s (the previous diamond being the Wittelsbach in 2008 for $24.3 million USD) and in the United States. That’s $1,135,000 USD per carat! Other fun facts about the auction are that 241 out of 294 lots were sold, and the entire auction brought in $81.3 million US dollars.

Which is your favorite piece from the auction? Would you love to wear that double strand necklace of mixed cuts? Or perhaps you think The Princie is the prettiest pink? You know my answer already — I will forever remember how great that cushion cut diamond ring felt on my hand. Until the next auction!

P.S. Although I mention the name Christie’s a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous gems, especially the ones that I get to try on!

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