Happy Saturday, everybody! I thought I would do a weekend post about one of my favorite jewelry designers, JAR. JAR stands for Joel Arthur Rosenthal, who moved from New York to Paris decades ago, and began a career designing fabulous jewelry (after some stints at Hermes and Bulgari). His jewelry is one of the most expensive I have ever seen, and he produces very little pieces a year. He has been compared to a modern day Faberge, both for his incredible talent and incredible temper (more on that below). Below are some examples of his fabulous work, and a collection of the most interesting facts I could find on him. I hope one day to own a piece by JAR – enjoy!
12 Facts about Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR)
1. He has worked out of the same unmarked shop in the Place Vendome in Paris for 25 years, and to enter the store, you must have an introduction (the other shops in the square, such as Cartier/VCA, are scary enough, requiring you to ring a bell and be let in by a doorman). He doesn’t do any advertising.
2. His cult following is so strong, and his pieces are so difficult to get, that his items will sell for up to 8x their retail value at auction. The earrings above, which sold for $710k the first time around (the price quoted is for the 2nd auction which just concluded) were originally estimated at $80k.
3. The rumor is he once refused to sell an item to Gwyneth Paltrow (surely a victory for all you GOOP haters out there), but she still wears the items she was allowed to purchase at events.
4. Joel is most famous as of late perhaps for the Ellen Barkin auction, where she sold off several JAR items purchased for her by Ron Perelman.
5. But speaking of names, Joel has been able to fulfill one of my secret bourgeois dreams of having an obnoxious one word name – like Madonna, he prefers to be called either “Prince” or “Christos.”
6. Rumors about his temperamental behavior abound- he has been known to shoo women out of the shop for a)wearing annoying perfume and b) having overly loud children. Depending on where you stand on perfume and children, this may make him a monster or hero to you.
7. JAR retains the right to refuse to sell you a piece of jewelry if he feels it doesn’t suit you. He has in the past activated this right.
8. He hates velveteen. He says, “I’d rather give you the jewels in a…brown paper bag” than a velveteen box. Sorry, Tiffany.
9. Even Ellen Barkin, nasty as her divorce was, couldn’t give up all of her JAR jewelry from Perelman – she kept one ring.
10. JAR has some aspect of practicality – he frequently works with materials such as sterling silver (a friend of ours has a pair of earrings in silver), steel, and titanium.
11. Joel graduated from Harvard in 1966, earning the approval of Asian mothers everywhere (I can say that, cause I’m Asian).