Jewelry Gallery, March 15 - September 7, 2013
From the earliest times man has looked to the sky and observed the wonder of the stars, the moon, and the planets. Prehistoric cultures left behind astronomical artifacts. Egyptians, Nubians and other early civilizations such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, and Maya methodically observed the night sky. With the invention of the telescope in the early 16th century, astronomers began to understand the solar system’s mysteries.
As early as the 19th century forward thinking men dreamed of travel to space and wrote novels about it...amazingly foreshadowing what was to come. Movies and TV shows were based on this imaginary travel even before it was actually possible. In 1957 Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, was launched by the Russians with profound significance... igniting America’s race to space.
We have come a long way in our quest to go into space. Americans have walked on the moon and made many visits to the International Space Station. Spacecraft have allowed us to communicate worldwide, predict the weather, and explore distant worlds.
Missions to Mars, Mercury, and Pluto, and the discoveries they are revealing, are in the news right now. With the end of the space shuttle program the private sector has jumped in to fill the gap...there are even a number of companies preparing to offer tourist trips to the moon and beyond!
Space has always been in our consciousness and often expressed in jewelry. The ancients wore amulets depicting the moon; in Georgian and Victorian jewelry we see numerous depictions of the moon, stars, and Halley’s Comet. The mid-20th century saw an explosion of “space age jewelry” and corresponding couture, and today the “futuristic” look in fashion is “in” thanks to Lady Gaga and other entertainers. Many contemporary fine jewelers and studio jewelers still look to space for inspiration and the result is some of the wonderful jewelry you will see in this exhibition.
Many inventions that benefit our daily lives came from America’s development of spacecraft...and jewelers have taken advantage of some of the unique materials that have been created. In addition, materials from outer space itself have found their way into contemporary jewelry.
The purpose of this exhibition is to document how the history of space exploration has been reflected in our popular culture through both fine and non-precious jewelry and to showcase the beautiful and whimsical jewels that are being crafted today as jewelers continue to ponder the mysteries of the universe.
–Elyse Zorn Karlin, Guest Curator
Image above: Tampa Necklace. Van Cleef & Arpels. French White and yellow gold with round, baguette and rose-cut diamonds, round pink, purple and yellow sapphires, rose-cut blue sapphires, onyx, round orange garnets, round red spinels and round beryl. Private Collection.