Joel (Arthur) Rosenthal was born in New York City. He graduated in art history from Harvard in 1966 before moving to Paris. He initially worked in the film industry, and then opened a needlepoint shop, where his clients included Hermès and Valentino, and where his work with multi-coloured yarns would have a lasting effect on his designs. After working with Bulgari in New York, he returned to Paris and opened a shop in the Place Vendôme in 1977; his initials, JAR, the only source of identification on the façade. Mr. Rosenthal works with his partner, Pierre Jeannet, to create exquisite jewels, superbly crafted in unique settings. His work is meticulous and imaginative, incorporating stones in unexpected colour combinations : purple-amethyst and golden-orange citrine; tourmalines in pink, green, deep-blue and black; spinels in pale-pink, purple and violet-blue; star sapphires, emeralds and diamonds – all coaxed and draped around each other to wonderful effect in complex settings of silver, platinum, aluminum, blackened-gold and titanium.
Only 70 to 80 jewels are created each year, for an exclusive clientele. Given his current renown,
JAR has been largely a Parisian secret during the first fifteen years of his career. He held an invitation-only one-night show in New York in 1987 celebrating ten years on the Place Vendome, and his pieces were collected by a coterie of perpetually-chic women including French actress and art lover Jacqueline Delubac and stage and screen actress Ellen Barkin. Barkin, who offered a magnificent collection of JAR pieces at Christie’s, spoke fondly in an interview about the tactile experience of wearing his jewels – the smoothness of the pearls against her neck, the feeling as the earrings ‘clang in her ears as she ran around town.’
It was JAR’s blockbuster exhibition at London’s Somerset House in 2002 that placed him into the consciousness of fashionable women everywhere. One hundred forty-five clients loaned him their jewels for a 400 piece show, and as a ‘Thank You’ he sent each a pair of floral ear clips in colored aluminum. He made an additional 1,000 pairs of colored aluminum pansy ear clips for purchase by guests of the exhibit, and these highly coveted pieces were snapped up within days.