Heralded as “the Fabergé of the late 20th century”, Joel Rosenthal founded JAR in 1977 with his Swiss business partner, Pierre Jeannet. His work is defined by superior craftsmanship, a bold sense of proportion, and an innovative design aesthetic that lends a sculptural quality to all of his creations. His work is remarkable both for its imaginative settings and the diversity of materials he selects, including uncommon semi-precious stones such as coral, tourmalines, demantoid garnets, spinels, and sapphires, as well as top-quality flawless diamonds. In contrast to the production of most jewellers today, each JAR jewel is a handmade, one-of a kind creation. Because he employs traditional artisan techniques that are extremely time-consuming, only 60 to 70 items are produced each year, with each one destined to pass into the realm of the most esteemed private collections.
Although his work has enjoyed a cult-like following among the fashion cognoscenti for decades, JAR remained something of a best-kept secret until the landmark sale of the Ellen Barkin Collection at Christie’s, which drew so many exceptional examples of his work into the spotlight. Despite this newfound fame, JAR purposefully maintains a very small and private enterprise with one shop, one designer, and a staff of five. His client list remains exclusive and intensely loyal, and the company’s salon on Place Vendôme in Paris bears no sign, has no jewels on display, and may be visited only by appointment. Over the years, Christie’s has been selected to present several significant collections of JAR jewels in its salerooms. The record auction price of $1.8 million for a JAR jewel was achieved at Christie’s in New York in October 2006 for the oval-cut 22.76 carat, D color diamond “thread” ring that JAR created especially for Ellen Barkin.
Market Update – Jewels from Top Designers
Despite continued volatility in the global economy, prices for investment-quality diamonds and signed jewels have been climbing at major auction houses, driven by demand from savvy collectors seeking tangible assets. Beyond the value of the stones, jewelry from top designers like JAR tends to increase in value over time, a testament to the exceptional craftsmanship and limited availability of these jewels on the open market. At Christie’s recent Jewels: The Hong Kong Sale in June, a record price of $6.9 million (HK$ 53,860,000) was achieved for a signed Cartier diamond bracelet bearing a 49.61 carat Kashmir sapphire, and become the top price paid for any bracelet at auction. At Christie’s New York in April, a 15.76 carat rectangular-cut diamond ring by BVLGARI sold for $1.7 million to an American private collector.
In addition to the spectacular topaz ear pendants by JAR, Christie's offers collectors a dazzling array of investment options in the form of vintage and contemporary jewels from the most celebrated designers, including Boivin, Boucheron, BVLGARI, Cartier, Mauboussin, Oscar Heyman Brothers, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels, among others. Examples include an Art Deco Multi-Gem, Enamel and Diamond 'Tutti Frutti' Sautoir, by Mauboussin (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000) and a Belle Epoque Diamond Choker, by Boucheron (estimate: $200,000-400,000).
Auction: Jewels: The New York Sale: October 20, 2010 - Viewing: New York - Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries: October 16–19, 2010