Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age

While visiting New York City recently I went to a marvelous jewelry exhibit at the Forbes Gallery titled “Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age”.  Curated by Elyse Zorn Karlin, author of “Jewelry and Metalwork in the Arts and Crafts Tradition”. The exhibit focuses on man’s fascination with the moon, stars, and planets and how this fascination has translated into the medium of jewelry over the ages.
 
Although this fascination with the cosmos began in ancient times the exhibit begins in the Georgian and Victorian eras with Halley’s Comet, crescent moon, and star brooches.  The exhibit continued into the 20th century with early space age jewelry known as “Sputnik” style jewelry.  While these items were wonderful, they were not unexpected – I come across lots of Victorian moon and star brooches and Sputnik-style jewelry while hunting for jewelry for my Ruby Lane shop. 
 

What was a revelation to me however, were the pieces of jewelry made out of space age materials, jewelry flown in space, and jewelry made out of materials FROM space!  There was a display case of jewelry made out of meteorites and tektites (glass formed when a meteor hits the earth).   There was another display case of jewelry made from materials used in building spacecraft – such as polymers, titanium, dichroic glass, and fiber optic glass - that are now used by jewelry artists.  Another case of jewelry had been worn in space by astronauts and also contained beads flown on the space shuttle as part of “Beads of Courage”, an organization dedicated to providing support for children coping with life-threatening illness.

 
Of course every exhibit needs a showstopper and this exhibit has two:  the “Tampa Necklace” by Van Cleef and Arpels is a one-of-a-kind collar inspired by the Jules Verne novel “From the Earth to the Moon”, with detachable and interchangeable components made of white and yellow gold, diamonds, sapphires, garnets, spinel, and beryl; and one of three 18 carat gold Cartier models of the Apollo 11 lunar module created to commemorate the first landing of man on the moon and presented to the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
 

The exhibit continues until September 7, 2013 at the Forbes Galleries, 62 Fifth Avenue, New York City.  Additional information about the exhibit is also available in the current issue of “Adornment, the Magazine of Jewelry & Related Arts” of which Elyse Zorn Karlin is Editor-in-Chief.

 

Lisa Kramer of Lisa Kramer Vintage on Ruby Lane

 

 


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