The “Gems” exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History presents six pieces by Jean Vendome including a strange sculpture…
To see “L’Arbre aux Tourmalines”, Jean Vendome’s major piece, head for the first part of the “Gems” exhibition dedicated to the “History of the Earth and expertise”. The five others are displayed in the third part recalling the historical, scientific and artistic importance of Paris in the field of minerals. They are displayed alongside Roger Caillois‘s “Le Château” and Van Cleef and Arpels’ “Souffle des Neiges” set of raw emerald crystals.
1/ The “Couple” ring, 1970
This yellow and white gold ring with two gems, rock crystal and tourmaline joined by a line of diamonds, was made by Jean Vendome for his wife Nelly. It features on the cover of the book written by Sophie Lefèvre.
2/ ” L’Arbre aux Tourmalines “, 1977
This very strange sculpture was composed by Jean Vendome at the request of H.-J. Schubnel, director of the NMHN for the exhibition “Pierres Précieuses du monde entier”, in 1977. It illustrates the use of precious stones in contemporary art. 92 gems of 840 carats hang on the metal structure, all from the MNHN’s old collections: Crown Jewels, Tück donations and the first slices of zoned tourmaline from 1908.
3/ The “Tour-maline” ring, 1982
This open, asymmetrical ring on a square base is made with vertical and horizontal tourmaline crystals including an extraordinary raspberry red rubellite and another zoned. It is one of the many variants of the “Tour” ring created in 1956 (visible in the exhibition of The School of Jewelry Arts) and reinterpreted over time.
4/ The “Méteore” brooch, 1998
Donated by Jean Vendome to the NMHN, this brooch is on display for the first time. On the gold setting a black Tahitian pearl is surrounded by Moroccan azurite crystals, dioptase and green tourmalines. The blue and green stones echo those of the “Amazonie” ornament displayed in the same showcase.
5/ The “Amazonie” ornament, 2007
It’s so exceptional, it’s the only thing you see in the window! The tie necklace, the ear designs, the ring and the bracelet are composed of multi-centimeter dioptase crystals illuminated by diamonds. “It is worthy of a museum piece because gemologically speaking, dioptase crystals are marvels,” says Professor François Farges.
6/ The “Work In Progress” necklace, 2017
This is the prototype of Jean Vendome’s latest jewel. This stage, before the realization in metal, shows the gems, tourmalines and a magnificent azurite flower, pre-positioned on an acrylic matrix.
“Gems” exhibition from 15 September to 16 April 2021 at the National Museum of Natural History
Banner video: “L’Arbre aux Tourmalines” © François Farges
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