Apr 18, 2019 | By Cassandra Gagnon
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Nov 04, 2011
“Every 15 to 20 years, you get one lead retail design jeweler that the world follows in terms of style, who is imitated and copied—Tiffany at the turn of the century, Cartier in the deco period, Van Cleef & Arpels in the ’40s and ’50s, Winston in the ’50s and ’60s,” says Esmerian. “For the last 20-odd years, JAR has been the lead creative retailer, even though he runs a tiny retail operation of four or five people plus his partner. In the jewelry world, where the great names of the past have all undergone the corporate treatment, JAR is the lone voice of creativity.” – Ralph Esmerlan, owner of Fred Leighton
We stopped by Bergdorf Goodman yesterday and came across JAR, a truly unique fragrance experience that’s like none we’ve ever experienced.
Joel Arthur Rosenthal aka JAR, often coined “the greatest jeweler of our time” and known for his elusiveness, has a cult following for his exclusive jewels and perfumes. He graduated from Harvard in 1965 with a degree in art history and philosophy, and started designing his unusual pavé creations without a jewelry background. He opened his shop in Paris’ Place Vendome in the 70s. It has no display windows and is open by appointment to only a select few. His pieces are so exclusive that only about 250 women in the world own one; some of those women include Ellen Barkin, Ann Getty, Gwyneth Paltrow, Princess Firyal of Jordan, Mary Pinault and Barbara Walters. Diane von Furstenberg considers him today’s Fabergé. Never one to advertise or pose for paparazzi, Rosenthal keeps his brand small and selective – only 70 to 80 pieces a year, each one-of-a-kind and often designed with a specific wearer in mind.
Rosenthal is known for his honesty, often exercising the right to refuse to sell a piece if he doesn’t think it suits the buyer. “I am not arbitrary. If you happen to have ideas and defend them, people make you into a dragon. Getting the right things on the right people is part of making those things,” he said. JAR jewelry often sells for twice the original price. Each piece has a personal touch – like the JAR logo printed on the clip of an earring designed to leave an imprint on the wearer’s ear lobe, or a design placed on the back of a brooch – that surprise and delight the owner upon discovery.
Tired of distasteful perfumes, he expanded his line in the 80s to include fragrances with a motto stating, “JAR does not believe scent can be rationalized. Fragrance is an emotion.” The fragrances are sold in two boutiques around the world, one located blocks away from his jewelry shop in Paris, and the other is in a hushed alcove at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC. It’s so hidden that many Bergdorf employees don’t even know of its existence. There, the seven perfumes are displayed with a price tag of up to $380 an ounce. Although he has never revealed the notes in his fragrances, they contain the finest high-quality materials and are exceptionally concentrated to extend the wear on the skin. “It’s fragrance the way it was originally meant to be experienced way back when,” explained our JAR specialist. The perfumes do not contain the typical top, middle, and base notes. Rather, they blend together for an unpredictable release. The Bolt of Lightning fragrance takes 10 minutes to develop on the skin.
Inside the boutique, a specially trained JAR representative takes you on a fragrant journey, offering a series of lidded glass containers from which the scent rises. They are instructed not to sell, and just guide visitors through the JAR experience. “Part of the pleasure of perfume,” said Rosenthal, “is where it comes from–literally the shop it comes from. If you can buy something anywhere in the world, as is almost always the case today, the pleasure and mystery of the source of the thing is gone.”
Be sure to stop in to a JAR boutique to experience a piece of true luxury.
The seven fragrances are:
Ferme Tes Yeux
Bolt of Lightning
14 Rue de Castiglione, First Arr.
754 Fifth Avenue (at 58th Street), New York, NY 10019
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