Historic Jewels Made Fashionable

  • Jill Newman

When the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveils its highly anticipated exhibition “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul,” visitors will also see an exclusive jewelry collection that was adapted from the original artifacts and is also for sale. The museum enlisted jewelry designer and goldsmith Gurhan Orhan to create the Hidden Treasures Collection, which employs the traditional technique of the early goldsmiths: fortifying hollow jewelry with natural elements such as grain, wood, or sand.

The jewelry ($350 to $25,000) features limited-edition pieces, many of which are inlaid with turquoise, lapis lazuli, and carnelian. Ancient Afghanistan was home to some of the most complex, rich, and original civilizations on the continent of Asia, and its diverse cultural elements gave rise to the creation of distinctive styles of art from the Bronze Age into the Kushan period. The museum’s exhibition features works of art from four archaeological sites, among them Tillya Tepe (“Hill of Gold”) in northern Afghanistan, where some 21,000 gold artifacts were unearthed from nomadic tombs more than 2,000 years old. Although locally made, the jewelry found at the site displays a fascinating blend of Greek, Near Eastern, Indian, Chinese as well as nomadic imagery, and many of these items served as inspiration for Gurhan’s collection. The exhibition runs from June 23 to September 20. (www.metmuseum.org)

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