My agenda

23 February 2020

Discovering new pieces in the contemporary section of the gallery des Bijoux at the MAD Paris

For designers, seeing their work on display in the gallery des Bijoux of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is an apotheosis. We discover some fresh “chosen ones” on the occasion of a new hang and new lighting.

Par Sandrine Merle.



1,200 pieces of jewelry are divided between two rooms: the first covers the Middle Ages to the 1940s; the second features contemporary work from the 1950s to the present day. With 300 pieces from all over the world, the contemporary space performs a balancing act between “haute” and “couture” (non-precious) jewelry. Head curator Dominique Forest tells us about the latest arrivals.


How do designers make it into the gallery des Bijoux ?

“The gallery seldom buys pieces; it tends to acquire them through donations from collectors, private individuals and so on,” she explains. However, nobody can get in just like that:  designers need to have a signature style and/or have produced a completely new piece of jewelry. Then she will suggest them to a commission made up of representatives of State and other museums and specialists in the decorative arts. Jewelry may also be loaned by a private individual or a brand, as with the Cartier bracelet once belonging to Elsa Schiaparelli.


1. Jean Vendome’s amethyst flower

Jean Vendome’s ring, acquired through the Friends of the museum, is an iconic piece by this prolific avant-garde designer of the 1970s and 80s, sporting magnificent amethyst flowers. He adored atypical stones, and would cut them in slices to reveal their irregular crystallization. “A few years ago, he also donated several designs to the MAD: they can be seen in the upcoming exhibition devoted to him at The School of Jewelry Arts.”


2. Talosel jewelry by Line Vautrin

For the new opening, Line Vautrin’s daughter donated several pieces of jewelry: four loaned several years ago, and some others made of Talosel (cellulose acetate), the artist’s favorite material. Line Vautrin is very well know in particular for her facetious jewelry adorned with rebuses.


3. Contemporary jewelry by Géraldine Luttenbacher

The French designer recently donated the jewelry featured in the exhibition “D’un bijou à l’autre” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2013. The necklace and bracelet contain round micro-mirrors that make play with light, reflect it and project it onto the skin.


4. Thirty-odd Australian pieces

The gallery also focuses on international creation. Up till now, it had a unique collection of some fifty Australian jewelry items (including by Robert Baines) donated over the years by the collector Diana Morgan. She has just added about thirty more pieces, meaning that it can now highlight one of the world’s most dynamic jewelry scenes.


5. Cindy Chao’s first butterfly

Cindy Chao, representing a new niche of independent Asian jewelers, has provided a butterfly made of two Burmese rubies (13 carats in all): the first one she created in 2008. She has made eight others at the rate of one a year, one of which is now in the Smithsonian Institute.


6. Basket earrings by Suzanne Syz

Switzerland-based Suzanne Syz, famous for her jewelry inspired by contemporary art, has donated a pair of titanium earrings. “As well as the quirky style and excellent technical execution, we chose them for their basket of fruit design, which echoes a popular 19thcentury theme,” says Dominique Forest.


Donating a piece of jewelry to the museum proves even more effective than putting it in a show there: designers have grasped the fact that their jewelry takes on an aura and becomes an undying part of the pageant of history.


Related articles:

Gérard Sandoz ring acquired by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Jean Vendome, a pioneer of contemporary jewelry

Jewelry, a plastic art

The historic part of the gallery des Bijoux at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs 

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