10_21_20 / Art + Design
Blazing Glory Everywhere
Golder than gold, Kimberly Klosterman’s radiant collection of artist jewelry of the 1960s and 70s shines brightly in answer to the question, “What more can we wear?”
PHOTOGRAPHY_ carlton davis
text_ cameron silver
It was the early aughts and we were at the sun-kissed Richard Neutra home of Ronnie and Vidal Sassoon in Bel Air. I was co-hosting a trunk show of treasures curated by jewelry collector Kimberly Klosterman. Standing on the terrazzo floor, I perused Kimberly’s eclectic collection. Amid a captivating presentation of textured sautoirs, astrological pendants, and chandelier-sized earrings, I zeroed in on a knuckle duster ring with a very abstract gold mount and a strange lavender stone. I put the ring on and it fit. That is always a tell-tale sign for me; if it’s vintage, unusual, and it fits, I know I’m in trouble.
Kimberly explained that the stone was chalcedony and was historically used extensively by the celebrated and influential Parisian designer Suzanne Belperron in the 1940s. It was peculiar, rather like wearing a jellyfish, and it challenged me. There was no signature indicating the artist who designed the ring. This only added to its mystery. Jolie laide is what the French affectionately call something that is both beautiful and ugly. Kimberly and I spoke of the courtship in selecting a piece of jewelry. “Is this ugly or fabulous?” she asked. It was both. I purchased it and over the next two decades Kimberly has been my source for procuring jewelry that adorns, but also confronts. When I find something from Kimberly, it inevitably means I am making a statement.
Like most collectors, Kimberly trod a circuitous path to discover her signature style. She started off with cream pitchers and, as she approached her late teens, realized jewelry was a better match. At first it was signed sterling Trifari, then Austro-Hungarian jewelry. Her father collected magic apparatus and certainly the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. What Kimberly has amassed is filled with mysterious, otherworldly chunks of gold and garnet, dangles of diamonds, and sculptures of sapphire, opals, pearls, amethyst, ruby, and citrine, often in one cocktail ring! Occasionally, Kimberly and I have collaborated with collections of jewelry for my Los Angeles store, Decades. My clients have gravitated toward Kimberly’s aesthetic because she is a maximalist. However, she has her rules. “You shouldn’t wear more than three pieces of jewelry at once, but you can have an armful of bracelets, which I count as one.” Also, “Everything goes together...although I am old school. I like my metals to match.”
Inevitably, because she is a visionary, Kimberly’s possessions have gone mainstream. Kimberly was having an Aldo Cipullo moment before Cartier reissued Cipullo’s famous 1970s nail design, Juste un Clou, in 2012. Similarly, prior to Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s Cartier vermeil belt-necklace worn in Capri selling for $24,000 at Sotheby’s in 1996, Kimberly had recognized it as collectible. Once-neglected names like Andrew Grima, Arthur King, and Jean Vendome are now celebrated along with those of Jean Schlumberger and David Webb.
Kimberly Klosterman’s aesthetic reflects the cultural zeitgeist of the decades she collects. With an emphasis on the 1960s and ‘70s, the jewelry represents a design movement that reacted to the moon landing, rock ‘n’ roll, the Vietnam War, Flower Power, and major social changes. “People like what they know, rather than know what they like,” Kimberly explained, as she has educated my novice eye to be both discerning but ultimately visceral and vulnerable to the beauty of the art of jewelry that isn’t always conventional.
When I procured that first strange piece from Kimberly, I questioned whether I had the confidence to carry off such a large chunk of jewelry. “It’s not the size of the person, it’s the size of the personality,” she instructed me. Kimberly’s collection has honed in on a certain group of rarified artist-jewelers with a distinctly esoteric point of view. These pieces were designed for a very select crowd, but decades later they are now appreciated by a broader audience, thanks to Kimberly’s discerning eye and insatiable appetite to search for treasures from Tennessee to Tokyo. What was once considered big and ugly is now considered big and beautiful. What once was being scrapped for metal and gems is now being celebrated in museums. As for that chalcedony ring, it was the start of an alluring relationship with many more marvelously peculiar pieces that may not be for everyone to wear, but are certainly for everyone to admire.
TEXT_ CAMERON SILVER, EXCERPTED FROM “PREFACE”, SIMPLY BRILLIANT: ARTIST-JEWELERS OF THE 1960S AND 1970S, ED. CYNTHIA AMNÉUS (LEWES: D GILES LIMITED, 2020), P10. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM D GILES LIMITED AND THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM.
THE WORKS ILLUSTRATED HERE WILL APPEAR IN THE TRAVELING EXHIBITION THE JEWELLER’S ART. REVOLUTIONARY JEWELLERY FROM THE 1960S AND 70S AT DIVA, ANTWERP (30 OCTOBER 2020 – 14 MARCH 2021); AT SCHMUCKMUSEUM, PFORZHEIM (27 MARCH – 27 JUNE 2021); AND IN SIMPLY BRILLIANT: ARTIST-JEWELERS OF THE 1960S AND 1970S, AT THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM (22 OCTOBER 2021 – 6 FEBRUARY 2022).
A CATALOGUE ACCOMPANYING THE EXHIBITION SIMPLY BRILLIANT: ARTIST-JEWELERS OF THE 1960S AND 1970S (ISBN: 978-1-911282-52-5), WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE FROM SHOP.CINCINNATIARTMUSEUM.ORG/COLLECTIONS/BOOKS FOR $54.95 AND FROM GILESLTD.COM/PRODUCT/SIMPLY-BRILLIANT FOR £40.00.
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