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Lunar Motifs: Man in the Moon Jewelry

Our fine 14K gold jewelry with moonstones and white sapphires celebrates a venerable celestial symbol

Artists have long looked to the heavens for inspiration—imagining wondrous beings living in cosmic, interstellar realms, far from the ordinary confines of Earth. Beguiling images of anthropomorphic suns, moons, and stars with human faces can be found throughout The Met collection.

Roundel. Made in Niederösterreich, Austria. Pot-metal glass, colorless glass, and vitreous paint; 1390. The Cloisters Collection, 1936  36.39.2

Paper Lantern Maker’s Catalogue. Published in Kirchheim-Teck. Chromolithograph, ca. 1880. The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1958   58.535.1

“Astronomicum Caesareum.” Michael Ostendorfer (German, (?) ca. 1490–1549). Author: Petrus Apianus (German, 1495–1552). Printer: Georg and Petrus Apianus. Hand-colored woodcuts, 17 7/8 × 12 11/16 × 1 5/16 in., May 1540. Gift of Herbert N. Straus, 1925 25.17

Man in the Moon Trade Card. Issued by Weber Baking Company. Commercial color lithograph, early 20th century. The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick 63.350.307.69.34

The moon recently took center stage in the 2019 Met exhibition, Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography. Held in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, the popular exhibition brimmed with diverse lunar imagery, from paper moons in early 20th-century photo studios (below), to high-tech photos from NASA. The fascinating exhibition catalogue can be purchased online at The Met Store.

Gallery view from “Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography”

Our new moonstone jewelry adapts the charming moon face etched in silver on a rare calendar watch in The Met collection (below). Made in London around 1650 by Thomas Alcock, the original dial indicated the time of tides, mean solar time, phase of the moon, and day of the month.

Calendar Watch. Thomas Alcock (recorded working 1630, Clockmakers’ Company 1632, died before 1688). British, London. Outer case: leather-covered silver with silver piqué work; Inner case: silver; movement: gilt brass, steel, partly blued, and silver; ca. 1650. Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917   17.190.1470

Moonstone, a transparent or translucent feldspar of pearly or opaline luster, gained in popularity at end of the 19th century. The publication in 1890 of Gems and Precious Stones of North America spurred an interest in native American gemstones such as moonstone, which displays a quality called “adularescence,” an optical phenomenon that makes the luminous stone appear to glow from white to pale blue. 

“Man in the Moon” moonstone jewelry enjoyed a lively vogue in Edwardian England (1904–1914), a genteel era before World War I, when Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, became an elegant and fashionable trendsetter. The pieces featured carved moonstone faces decorated with diamonds to suggest twinkling stars. Examples of vintage Man in the Moon jewelry are highly sought after by collectors today.

Our Man in the Moon Moonstone Pendant Necklace is rimmed with sparking white sapphires

Our 14K gold Man in the Moon ring and pendant showcase beautiful carved moonstones and are adorned with a crescent of white sapphires. This timeless design will make a contemporary statement while also representing a fine-jewelry heirloom that can be passed down to future generations.

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