In celebration of our “celestial” theme for fall, The Met Store team has commissioned a pair of matching pieces featuring stars from six Museum curatorial departments. Crafted in 18K gold plate with enamel, Swarovski crystals, glass, and various antique finishes, these delightful charm-bedecked adornments will add an element of art-inspired glamour and whimsy to your wardrobe. Below is a brief look at the artworks—and the stories behind the stars.
Star from a Library Table – The American Wing
Herter Brothers, the New York firm of the German-born brothers Gustave and Christian Herter, was arguably the leading cabinetmaking and decorating firm in the U.S. during the late 19th century. Formed at a time when wealthy Americans were redefining luxurious standards of living, Herter Brothers created cosmopolitan environments for some of the most visible and affluent clients of the era. This star recalls a magnificent rosewood library table in the American Wing, which was originally made for William H. Vanderbilt’s lavish New York City mansion. The impressive tabletop, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and brass, presents a celestial field with the stars over the northern hemisphere on the day Vanderbilt was born.
Star from a Cylinder Seal – Ancient Near Eastern Art
The invention in the fourth millennium B.C. of carved cylinders that could be rolled over clay led to the development of complex seal designs. First used in Mesopotamia, the seals served as a mark of ownership or identification. Seals were either impressed on lumps of clay that were used to close jars, doors, and baskets, or rolled onto clay tablets that recorded information about commercial or legal transactions. This seal depicts a worshiper making an offering to a divinity seated above two human-headed bulls. The god is enthroned on a stool with animal legs of a type known from actual contemporary remains from both Egypt and Anatolia. Between them are a winged rosette disk with crescent, two stars, a squatting monkey, and an ankh, the Egyptian symbol for life. A sphinx wearing an Egyptian crown attacking an ibex is also depicted above a kneeling griffin-demon in a flounced skirt. One of the stars from this seal was transformed into the jewelry’s round blue charm.
Star from a Saber with Scabbard – Islamic Art
The most important ceremony in the inauguration of many Islamic rulers was the investiture with a sword, rather than a crown. This extravagantly decorated saber traditionally is said to have been refitted in 1876 for the investiture of the Ottoman sultan Murad V (reigned May 30–August 31, 1876). The sword was probably assembled by a court jeweler, using a 17th-century Iranian blade, an 18th-century Indian jade grip, and gem-studded gold and gilt-brass mounts of contemporary workmanship. The emerald near the top of the scabbard opens to reveal a secret compartment containing a gold coin marked with the name of Süleyman the Magnificent (1494–1566), the most powerful Ottoman ruler of the 16th century. Our jewelry highlights several star designs from this saber.
Star from a Terracotta Column-Krater – Greek and Roman Art
Our jewelry’s openwork charm highlights a star painted on an ancient Greek terracotta column-krater, a bowl for mixing wine and water. Attributed to the Group of Boston, this handsome Late Classical red-figure vessel was made about 360–350 B.C. The star adorns an outdoor scene in which Athena, the divine protector of Herakles, is shown seated in conversation with Castor or Pollux, the twin half-brothers from Greek mythology.
Star from a Pair of Ear Clips in the Shape of Starfruit – Asian Art
Evoking the richness of classical Javanese jewelry, this star takes its inspiration from Central Javanese adornments dating from the eighth–early tenth century. In this powerful Southeast Asian kingdom, lustrous gold was fashioned by goldsmiths into personal adornments worn on the body; made into ritual objects; and traded in commerce. Both Javanese royalty and commoners likely wore gleaming gold jewelry, including striking earrings with intricate applied ornament, such as granulation and floral designs.
Star from a String of Amulets – Egyptian Art
An amulet is a small object that a person believes will magically bestow a particular form of power or protection. The last star in our roundup is based on a string of star-shaped amulets from ancient Egypt. They were molded in faience, a ceramic material made of quartz, alkaline salts, lime, and mineral-based colorants. While faience is made of common materials, it maintained important status among precious stones and metals. In ancient Egypt, faience objects were considered magical, filled with the undying shimmer of the sun, and imbued with the powers of rebirth. This star charm on our necklace is decorated with hand-applied blue enamel to suggest the ancient Egyptian original.
Shop our unique celestial charm jewelry here.