Jewelry of Ideas: Gifts from the Susan Grant Lewin Collection at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, through May 28, 2018

Jewelry of Ideas: Gifts from the Susan Grant Lewin Collection celebrates the recent gift from the renowned collector to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. The exhibition, co-curated by Ursula Ilse-Neuman and Cooper Hewitt, features 150 brooches, necklaces, bracelets and rings, and traces radical developments in jewelry from the mid-20th century to the present. Works on view highlight jewelry design’s expressive and innovative achievements, ranging from works that make a political statement by eschewing silver and gold for industrial materials, to pieces that employ found materials to tell a personal narrative.

The exhibition captures the diversity and achievement of modern and contemporary jewelry designers from Holland, Japan, Israel, the United States and elsewhere. Many of the pieces confront social, political or personal concerns using unconventional materials and techniques. Contained within a ring may be a history of the mathematical proportions of the Palladian villas of the Veneto, as in the case of Giampaolo Babetto. Within a bracelet may be a rejection of the cult of the precious, as seen in Otto Künzli’s “Gold Makes You Blind,” where an 18-karat gold ball is encased in a rubber bangle.” — Cooper Hewitt

Giampaolo Babetto; Brooch, 1995; Molded, pressed, folded and stippled 18k gold sheet with applied pigment; H x W x D: 6.2 x 4 x 2.6 cm (2 7/16 x 1 9/16 x 1 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Friedrich Becker; Ring (kinetic), 1993; Silver, acrylic; H x D: 3.5 x 3.2 cm (1 3/8 x 1 1/4 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Ivy Ross; Necklace from the Colorcore Personal Adornment Series, 1983; Colorcore Formica fragments, clothespins (painted wood, metal), cord; L x W x D: 36.3 x 26.4 x 1.3 cm (14 5/16 x 10 3/8 x 1/2 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Attai Chen; Untitled (5) from the Compounding Fractions Series, 2010; Paper, paint, coal, glue, linen; H x W x D: 20.5 x 15 x 7.3 cm (8 1/16 x 5 7/8 x 2 7/8 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Sam Tho Duong; Ginger Brooch from the Ginger Series, 2004; Electroformed silver; H x W x D: 4.8 x 6.4 x 2 cm (1 3/4 x 2 1/4 x 1 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Arline Fisch; Spirit with 3 Legs, from the Spirit Houses Series, 1988; Silver, 18k woven structure, agate; L x W x D: 15.1 x 6.6 x 1.2 cm (5 15/16 x 2 19/32 x 15/32 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Ramona Solberg; Necklace, 1989; Dominos, leather cord, silver; H x W x D: 28.5 x 20.5 x 1.3 cm (11 1/4 x 8 1/16 x 1/2 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Otto Künzli; Pendant from the Fragments Series, 1986; Picture frame fragment, wood, steel; H x W x D: 35 x 26 x 3 cm (13 3/4 x 10 1/4 x 1 3/16 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Ted Noten; Crazy Glasses, 2008; Silver, fur, snakeskin; H x W x D: 45 x 15 x 2.5 cm (17 11/16 x 5 7/8 x 1 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Joyce Scott; Necklace, 2016; Glass beads, thread (Peyote stitch technique); H x W x D: 34.2 x 24 x 1.5 cm (13 7/16 x 9 7/16 x 9/16 in.); The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

“I have been collecting jewelry for decades and it only becomes more exciting as the field of conceptual jewelry design continues to flourish,” said Susan Grant Lewin. “I meet designers from around the world, so the collection is international in scope. I like to find the leaders and innovators—the most experimental jewelry designers—and I am thrilled that Cooper Hewitt is exposing their revolutionary work to the general public.”

Images courtesy Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.