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Lunchtime with a Curator: Decorative Arts Design Series

In the Hands of Women: Original Jewelry Design in Early to Mid-20th-Century Paris

Daytime Program (Session 3 of 3-Session Series) on Zoom

Monday, May 10, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0088
$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member

Clockwise: The Miniature Collection of R. Lee Taylor (Museum of the Shenandoah Valley), In the Hands of Women: Original Jewelry Design in Early to Mid-20th-Century Paris

Save when you purchase the Lunchtime with a Curator spring series!


Join curator Elizabeth Lay, a regular lecturer on the topics of fashion, textiles, and American furniture, for an image-rich lunchtime lecture series focusing on decorative arts and design topics.


In the Hands of Women: Original Jewelry Design in Early to Mid-20th-Century Paris

Jewelry expert Sheila Smithie examines several visionary French women who exercised their extraordinary creative powers in the 1920s and 1930s to transform jewelry design. Their exquisite creations were destined for a highly select set of collectors, often wealthy women buying for themselves who included the most sophisticated tastemakers of the period. After assembling a significant body of work, many of these women fell into obscurity and it was only in the mid- to late-20th century that their genius was gradually rediscovered. In a conversation with Lay, Smithie introduces the creations of Suzanne Belperron, Jeanne Boivin, Juliette Moutard, Madeleine Chazel, Janine Dusausoy, Renée Van Cleef Puissant, and Jeanne Toussaint and offers insights into why their jewelry for women by women commands such a large premium in today’s collector market.

Intertwined with their stories are those of couturiers such as Paul Poiret and Elsa Schiaparelli, the fashion editor Diana Vreeland, and patrons Daisy Fellowes, Millicent Rogers, the Duchess of Windsor, and Doris Duke. Karl Lagerfeld and Andy Warhol were part of a second generation of devotees. To help explain what makes these jewelers’ work so compelling and extraordinary, Smithie offers a “virtual hands-on” session, the next best thing to examining the jewels under a loupe in person.

Smithie is a fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain and was the recipient of its 2005 Christie’s Prize. She has worked as a jewelry specialist, appraiser, and cataloguer, primarily in the auction and dealer markets in Boston and New York since 2000 and has examined many thousands of pieces of period jewelry.


If you are interested in additional Lunchtime with a Curator spring sessions, see below:


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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.