A whirlwind trip through New York City Jewelry Week

Jewelry is having quite a moment as New York City Jewelry Week 2018 continues through Nov. 18.

From the moment I first heard about a week devoted to jewelry, I was hooked.

And while I’ve been advancing New York City Jewelry Week 2018 here (and in WAG’s print edition) on and off since the summer, the inaugural edition of this far-reaching event came into sharp focus late last month during the official press preview, with details shared by NYCJW founders JB Jones and Bella Nyman.

Featuring nearly 100 exhibitions, lectures, workshops, tours, collaborations and special events, NYCJW is dedicated to promoting the world of jewelry.

Excitement was high and, as my whirlwind 24 hours of NYCJW events proved, it was certainly well-merited.

I headed into Manhattan Nov. 13, with my destination the 92Y to hear style icon, vintage jewelry collector and writer Lynn Yaeger (Vogue, The Village Voice) in a conversation dedicated to “Treasure Hunting” with Marion Fasel of the online jewelry magazine The Adventurine. With so many NYCJW events going on, I decided to add to my evening with a bit of a pre-show – and found myself charmed beyond belief by HD Jewels at The Carlyle Hotel. Gallery director Manuela Zissler-Grenert offered me an impromptu walk through this jewel box of a boutique’s concurrent NYCJW exhibitions, “Women in Jewelry: Art Deco to Today” and a spotlight on the work of Mexican Modernist jeweler Antonio Pineda. Zissler-Grenert was not only refreshingly friendly but also quite informative – and, I thought, so very lucky to be surrounded by such incredible jewelry, a stunning inventory artfully displayed with other decorative objects. My personal jewelry-week odyssey was off to a great start, quickly followed by the surprisingly playful event at the 92Y. It was an evening filled with insight and plenty of laughter thanks to the candid stories shared by Yaeger, from her days hunting for treasures at the oh-so-missed flea market on 26th Street in Manhattan to further adventures in London, Paris and back to Manhattan’s own 47th Street, a favorite haunt.

Ready for more, I was back in New York the following morning for the day’s “main event,” joining Janis Staggs, director of curatorial and manager of publications at Neue Galerie New York – where I first heard about NYCJW – for a walk through “Focus: Wiener Werkstätte Jewelry,” which continues through Jan. 21. For more than an hour, she kept a dozen or so tour-goers captivated by her in-depth knowledge of her subject, sharing everything from personal anecdotes of research in Vienna to historical details on featured artists of these Vienna Workshops, including Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser and Dagobert Peche. It was a truly fascinating exhibition brought to further life by Staggs’ expert commentary.

Next, it was a hop on a Fifth Avenue bus to get me to a quick stop at the Aaron Faber gallery to ogle the dazzling contemporary designs of Atelier Zobel/Peter Schmid of Germany featured in “Painting with Fire and Gemstones.” Another bus ride brought me closer to Pratt Institute’s SCPS Gallery of its Manhattan Gallery for “ANTIQUEMANIA,” a thoughtful exhibition devoted to modern designers who created work “inspired by ancient and historical jewelry, motifs, and techniques.” Particularly captivating were works by Ashley Buchanan and Alicia Jane Boswell.

My next stop was one I was greatly anticipating – if at first just for the name: “Earrings Galore.” I was not disappointed in the pop-up shop/exhibition created by the Heidi Lowe Gallery, which is based in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I had a lovely chat with gallery namesake Lowe herself, who shared she is friends with Neyman, one of the NYCJW founders, so heard about the massive undertaking early on.

“I knew whatever it was going to be, it was going to be pretty good.”

Lowe’s imaginative display – gallery walls filled with silhouettes sporting single earrings – drew you right into the spirit of the exhibition, designed to introduce people to art jewelry. Designers from around the world applied to be featured, Lowe shared, and they, in turn, were being exposed to a diverse audience.

With her inviting storefront, Lowe said she was not only getting those seeking the destination out during NYCJW – but curious passersby.

“They’re making that leap,” she said.

My last planned stop was the Flying Solo boutique on West Broadway. The showcase of avant-garde fashion and accessories was hosting a panel discussion, “Personal Adornment and Embellishment as a Creative Act.”

The panel, some seven women of distinctive style, from jewelry designers to street-style icons, included New York-based jewelry historian, dealer and author Harrice Miller and noted collector Barbara Berger. (WAG featured both in a December 2013 story about the exhibition “Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger” at the Museum of Arts and Design).

The panel’s lively conversation ranged from what jewelry is (“Everything is jewelry. It’s all in the layering process… It all works together as one statement,” said artist Debra Rapoport) to approach (“I think everybody should wear whatever they like,” said fashion designer and stylist Arlinda McIntosh).

Museum docent and the single-named force behind Artful City Style on Instagram, Dayle said, “I think we’re seeing a real evolution of ‘what is jewelry.’”

The power of jewelry itself – a thread that ran throughout the events I attended – was again both simply – and sweepingly – stated by Berger: “Jewelry defines you.”

I had to agree…

Choosing from nearly 100 NYCJW events was tough – and of course, I was wishing I had time for much more – but my well-plotted itinerary served as quite the sampling. I found myself surrounded by fellow jewelry lovers, all of us often nodding in agreement to what was being said at the various events. I was inspired by what I saw – and added new venues and destinations to my never-ending list of jewelry resources. And perhaps most important, I heard many viewpoints and perspectives on jewelry – what it is, how it’s made and how and why we wear it.

If you’re intrigued, NYCJW events continue through Nov. 18 – with many exhibitions that coincided with the week continuing well beyond this weekend. Among them are “Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st Century” at the Katonah Museum of Art through Jan. 27 (and previewed in the October issue of WAG) and through Feb. 24,  “Jewelry: The Body Transformed” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, previewed here earlier this month.

The actual last stop on my NYCJW-in-24 hours tour was the event headquarters at Artists & Fleas on Broadway. I wanted to pick up the NYCJW edition of Current Obsession Paper. There, I had a lovely chat with Toronto-based jewelry designer Pasha Moezzi, in town to do social media for the event. I had spotted him that morning at the Neue Galerie and it was lovely hearing his perspective on NYCJW, as his days were spent criss-crossing the city from event to event. He was as excited as I was about all he was seeing.

Later on, as I was skimming through the special-edition publication, I saw something that had me already marking my calendar – the next edition of NYCJW will be Nov. 11-17, 2019.

Cannot wait!

For more, visit nycjewelryweek.com, historicaldesign.com, neuegalerie.org, aaronfaber.com, pratt.edu/the-work/gallery/fine-arts, heidilowejewelry.com, katonahmuseum.org, metmuseum.org and pashamoezzi.com.

– Mary Shustack


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