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Lecture – Jewelry for America: History and Evolution of Jewelry in America from the 19th Century

May 18 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

The earliest jewelry worn in America was of a sentimental nature, related to love and marriage or to death and mourning. In the early nineteenth century, a domestic industry took root. Newark, New Jersey, became home to some 200 manufacturers, and the iconic firms of Gorham and Tiffany & Co. were established. On New York’s Fifth Avenue, upscale jewelry houses strove to compete with European brands, while Britain’s Arts & Crafts movement inspired American jewelers to create small-batch studio production. Ms. Wees, curator of the American jewelry exhibition, Jewelry for America, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2019 to 2021, included a brief look at mid-20th-century artists whose modernist designs paved the way for contemporary innovations.

Beth Carver Wees is Curator Emerita, The American Wing, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where for 20 years she oversaw the collections of American silver, jewelry, and other metalwork. Beth holds degrees in art history from Smith College and the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. 




May 18
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm