A jewelry show advertised as “out of this world” might raise questions about the veracity of the claim in most situations, but an exhibit that runs through Jan. 4, 2016 at the Carnegie Mellon Museum of Natural History’s Wertz Gallery in Pittsburgh is legitimate.
“Out of this World! Jewelry in the Space Age,” follows the creative path of artisans inspired by the universe and our place in it. Starting with the Georgian period of the 1800s, when Edmond Halley correctly predicted the return of the comet that now bears his name, through the 21st century, jewelry has reflected humanity’s fascination with space.
And not just with inexpensive baubles. The exhibit includes a solid gold model made by Cartier of the lunar lander module that brought Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in 1969, and a diamond necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels made in 2010 that was inspired by Jules Verne’s 1864 novel “From the Earth to the Moon.”
“It’s really a fun exhibition,” said curator Elyse Zorn Karlin. The earliest pieces are comet-inspired, from the era when people around the world were astounded that Edmund Halley’s prediction about the orbit of his comet came true.
“People have been making comet pins ever since,” Karlin said. “Sputnik was launched in the ’50’s and there is all the jewelry associated with that and then we have jewelry that is made from materials that come from outer space like meteorites and we have jewelry made of materials that were created for spacecraft like titanium and others.”
The show started in New York at The Forbes Galleries and about 70 percent of the pieces will be in the Pittsburgh exhibit, along with additions for this show. Another benefit of seeing the exhibit is that you can also view the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, which stands as one of the world’s most spectacular museums for gemstones and jewelry.
If you don’t make it to Pittsburgh, Karlin is planning to bring the show to other U.S. cities, though plans have not been finalized.