For Paula Crevoshay, jewelry is far more than a pretty accessory or lavish investment piece. Instead, the Baton Rouge–born designer—who cut her teeth as a classically trained painter and printmaker before transitioning into jewelry—treats stones and precious metals as canvases, and her intricate, gemstone-laden designs lean closer to sculpture than traditional baubles. This approach has earned her a devoted set of collectors, and has caught the attention of institutions like the Smithsonian and the Gemological Institute of America, both of which have commissioned her to put her talent for working with ultra-rare gems to use for their public collections.
And now, the best of Crevoshay’s work is landing in Los Angeles. From December 7 to May 12, some of her most impressive creations will be on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County as part of the Art of the Jewel: The Crevoshay Collection exhibition. Far more than a chance to see some of her one-of-a-kind pieces up close (buying them is another question altogether—your best bet is snagging one at auction or through secondary market retailers like 1stdibs), the show takes a deep dive into the precise science that goes into each creation—tracing mineral to gem to jewel, a process Crevoshay understands deeply. “Like almost every artist, I love art supplies and want to buy everything in the shop,” she explains, “[but] when I changed mediums from oil and canvas to gold and gemstones, the cost of art supplies increased dramatically, and I knew I had to be very careful.”
Her exacting eye for raw materials is put on full display in pieces like the Montana Bitterroot (2015) brooch, which uses close to 300 pink Montana sapphires that, due to the rarity of such vivid pink, took several years for Crevoshay to carefully accumulate. Elsewhere, her meticulous designs are juxtaposed against raw stones. Her Conchita (2007), a Montana-sapphire butterfly brooch commissioned by the Smithsonian, will be displayed alongside two of the largest Montana sapphires in existence. Rough tourmaline and quartz from the Himalaya Mine in Southern California and a large gold crystal from Brazil will also be on display. (Unfortunately, the staggering 5,665-carat emerald unearthed earlier this year in Zambia won’t be making an appearance.)
This unique pairing—part design retrospective, part geology exhibition—ensures there is something for everyone. “Art is so very personal as to what resonates with us the most,” says Crevoshay, “what I really want people to experience when they contemplate my work is the feeling we get when we are touched by sublime beauty.”