FrontRunners: Rene Lalique

Rene Lalique (1860–1945) is best known for his stunning Art Nouveau vases, perfume bottles, chandeliers, and other glass pieces. But he began his career designing jewelry that created quite a stir because of its innovative pairings of semiprecious stones with materials that included ivory, coral, and even plastic. The piece pictured here, which combines 18-karat gold and enamel, is one of more than 100 items on display in Masterpieces of French Jewelry. The exhibit, organized by the nonprofit National Jewelry Institute (www.nationaljewelryinstitute.org), will remain at the Forbes Galleries in New York until February 2007, when it will travel to the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The jewelry dates from as early as the 1880s and includes the Taj Mahal diamond that Richard Burton presented to Elizabeth Taylor for her 40th birthday in 1972. The diamond hails from 17th-century India, but the yellow gold necklace that holds it is French.

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