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Volume 70, Issue 85, Friday, February 4, 2005

Life & Arts

The art of jewelry making shines at MFAH

By Kim Thai
The Daily Cougar

Jewelry has always seemed to be a pretentious adornment for the rich. For the first time, it can be experienced and appreciated on a different level: a level of art. Cartier Design viewed by Ettore Sottsass, currently running at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonet St., offers a ravishing display of stones and jewelry. 

The illuminated hallway filled with photographs sparks the eye's interest and anticipation before the exhibit. When finally reaching the end of the hallway, in front of a darkened room, the exhibit relies on nothing more than small rays of light and the luster of the gems themselves. The tiara begins the journey through the most exclusive and expensive pieces of art. 

All of the pieces had a personalized glory and history to them. Half of the collection was donated temporarily from distinguished families across the world, including the Duchess of Windsor and the Maharaja of Nawanagar. Although none of the pieces were originally "founded" until 1902 and kept in Paris (Cartier's founding city), there are some pieces that originate back to the 19th century, which adds even more mystique to them. Did someone request this special design for a ball? Perhaps a gift to seek love? Or maybe just to walk around with nothing on except a 10-pound diamond necklace? All of this is clarified on the audio tour for an additional $3.25. If a cup of Starbucks coffee is more valuable -- do not fret. The entrance to the exhibit offers a small booklet with descriptions of each individual piece. Jade? Amethysts? Or maybe faceted citrines -- who knew orange could glow like that? 

While most were fascinated with the tiaras, necklaces and brooches, what sparkled above the rest were the ordinary objects such as watches and cigarette cases that were transformed into jewelry. This is true art. To turn a regular clock into a jade elephant covered with onyx and rose-cut diamonds is why the word "amazing" was invented. 

There is an obvious female preference to this exhibit. But boys, don't be afraid to venture out and see what the hype is all about. 

After all, each piece was individually handpicked by the notable male designer Sottsass. 

This is an art exhibit, not a jewelry display. Go to appreciate the art of jewelry making. 

If skepticism is still seeping through, then take an hour out of a Thursday -- admission is free. Any other day students will get in for $3.50 for the 209-piece exhibit. That's not even two cents per diamond. 

"Cartier Design" 

Viewed by Ettore Sottsass

Exhibit Run: Through March 27 

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum Hours:

Tuesday-Wednesday: 10am-5pm

Thursday: 10am-9pm

Friday-Saturday: 10am-7pm

Sunday: 12:15pm-7:15pm

Closed Mondays 

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