Posted on November 14, 2019

Qatar Museums (QM) and American luxury jewellery and speciality retailer Tiffany & Co. hosted a round table discussion at the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) to shed light on the genius and historical importance of Jean Schlumberger and the Qatari legacy of jewellery design.

The event comes in line with the recently opened exhibition at NMoQ titled: Magnificent Jewels of Jean Schlumberger: From the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Collection, which is on show until 15 January 2020, and is supported by Alfardan Group and Tiffany & Co. The round table was moderated by Harper’s Bazaar Qatar Editor in Chief Bianca Bonomi, and included artist Dana Alfardan, jewellery collector and expert Sheikha Raya Al Khalifa, and Tiffany & Co’s Chief Gemologist Melvyn Kirtley.

Schlumberger began his career crafting costume jewellery for the French fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli in 1930s Paris, before heading his own private salon at New York’s Tiffany & Co. beginning in the 1950s. He then gained access to the Tiffany & Co vault and was able to use coloured gemstones, diamonds and 18 carat gold to upgrade his designs and really bring out the tri-dimensionality and show all the colours that nature has to offer. His designs, which ranged from cigarette cases and pill boxes to brooches and necklaces, were worn by some of the most iconic women of his time including actresses Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor and American horticulturalist and philanthropist, Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon. In fact, Mellon’s collection is the focus of Magnificent Jewels of Jean Schlumberger: From the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Collection exhibition.

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The exhibition has been widely praised in Qatar, particularly given the country’s long legacy in jewellery making. For decades, gathered pearls from the Gulf were traded to India, the Ottoman Empire, as well as Europe and North America – providing aristocratic and emerging middle classes with the luxury item to use in jewellery and clothing. Commenting on the exhibition, Sheikha Reem Al Thani, Director of Exhibitions at Qatar Museums stated: “Schlumberger’s work has been an inspiration to many jewellery makers across time. We are grateful for the support received by Alfardan Group and Tiffany & Co. in bringing his masterpieces here in Qatar to inspire the new generation of incredibly talented local designers. We look forward to seeing how his innovative spirit and creativity will spur their imagination and influence their future works.”

Melvyn Kirtley, Chief Gemologist for Tiffany & Co. stated: “I was thrilled to be a part of the round table discussion at National Museum of Qatar about Jean Schlumberger, one of the most talented and gifted artists of the 20th century. He had a remarkable ability to look at nature in a more abstract way. Using flowers, sea creatures, insects and birds as his models, he boldly reimaged them into colorful, vibrant gems.” Sheikha Raya Al Khalifa, jewellery collector and expert, stated: “The Schlumberger collection is such a perfect example of using jewellery as a medium to showcase a love of nature executed in an exceptionally unique whimsical manner. Listening to Melvyn speak was a real treat and gave us an in-depth perspective of the mind behind that magic that is Jean Schlumberger.” Dana Al Fardan, artist, said: “I truly enjoyed the Schlumberger collection roundtable at National Museum of Qatar. The Schlumberger exhibition resonated with me immediately as the aquatic features in his jewellery so closely tie to the pearl diving heritage of my family.”

Lastly, Bianca Brigitte Bonomi, Editor in Chief and Publisher, Harper’s Bazaar Qatar, Grazia Arabia, and Esquire Qatar, commented: “The Magnificent Jewels exhibition at the National Museum of Qatar is truly dazzling and it was a pleasure to take part in a discussion focused on the legacy of Jean Schlumberger. From Bunny Mellon, a noted American horticulturalist and philanthropist, to Hollywood and style icons including Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy, Schlumberger has occupied a remarkable place in popular imagination and has demonstrated, through his inventive, timeless, and exquisite designs, the power of creativity. As such, his designs are cause for celebration.”