Dazzling Jewelry Exhibits

Courtesy of Verdura

10 museums host eye-catching shows that highlight brilliant collections of gems. 

There is an embarrassment of riches at museums around the world this fall and winter, thanks to exhibitions of illustrious jewelry. The de Young Museum in San Francisco (“The Art of Bulgari, La Dolce Vita and Beyond, 1950–1990”), the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida (“David Webb: Society’s Jeweler”), and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (“In the Line of Sight”) have all gotten in on the act—and the popularity of these glittering displays promises to keep growing. 

“Museums have learned that jewelry is a very powerful magnet for potential visitors,” says Jeannine Falino, co-curator of a show on jewels from the American Gilded Age at the Museum of the City of New York. “This relatively new focus, which goes hand in hand with the trend for fashion-based exhibitions, has helped them raise attendance.”

The jewelry on our list—whether representing historical significance, contemporary luxury or utilitarian necessity—is delightful eye candy. "Jewels that are made today," points out Beatriz Chadour-Sampson, a freelance jewelry historian and co-curator of "Pearls" at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, "are the antiques of tomorrow." And we can't wait to see them all.