Thursday, August 25, 2011

lovely things — jewels, gems and treasures at mfa boston

One of the cur­rent exhibits run­ning at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is "Jew­els, Gems and Trea­sures — Ancient to Mod­ern". It exam­ines the notion that what we now con­sider gems, such as dia­monds and rubies, is much too lim­ited when look­ing at a broader world view. Many other items, whether seen as hav­ing pro­tec­tive value or sim­ply as being rare, have been trea­sured across the cen­turies. Fre­quently, tra­di­tional gems were mixed in with less pre­cious items, with the result­ing fab­ri­ca­tion an object of incred­i­ble beauty. Here are some of the amaz­ing pieces I saw this week:

Apolo­gies for this blurry pic­ture, but this suite of hum­ming­bird jew­els was made of, yes, real hum­ming­birds. Vic­to­rian excess at its most sublime.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston03

real hum­ming­birds as jewelry

Ancient pieces included rock crys­tal and enamel work along­side gems.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

This beau­ti­ful 19th cen­tury Chi­nese head­dress incor­po­rated gilt metal, king­fisher feath­ers, silk, glass and bone along with a host of semi-precious stones.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

19th cen­tury head­dress at MFA Boston

This 17th cen­tury Ger­man rosary fea­tured amber, believed at the time to have mag­i­cal prop­er­ties. Inter­est­ing choice for a Catholic I should think.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

17th cen­tury rosary at MFA Boston

Beau­ti­ful jew­elry in every color of the rainbow:

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

amethyst neck­lace at MFA Boston

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

a selec­tion of brooches at MFA Boston

A Faberge bull­dog, made of agate and semi-precious stones, in mem­ory of a beloved pet. Wow.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

faberge bull­dog

Enamel in com­bi­na­tion with moon­stones and pearls, sim­ply remarkable.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

A plat­inum, dia­mond and carved emer­ald brooch from 1928, owned and worn by Mar­jorie Meri­weather Post at her pre­sen­ta­tion to the Court of St. James. The cen­tral stone, carved in India, dates from the 17th cen­tury. 'Exquis­ite' barely cov­ers this piece.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

emer­ald brooch at MFA Boston

Finally, a brooch and cuff bracelet with less refine­ment of the stones, but cer­tainly plenty of char­ac­ter in the fin­ished pieces.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

There are many more won­der­ous exam­ples to see in this exhibit. I encour­age you to attend if you can; the show runs through Novem­ber 25.

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