This short video with Curator Sabine Albersmeier highlights some of the exquisite pieces of jewelry included in the exhibition.
Rings are the only jewelry objects that have never gone out of fashion. The exhibition traces the history of rings using more than 50 magnificent examples that highlight betrothal (right), marriage, and mourning rings as well as rings as symbols of status, faith, or loyalty. This section will include a significant number of objects from the magnificent collection of the New York gemologist Benjamin Zucker, which Mr. Zucker has generously loaned to the Walters Art Museum.
The second focus section, on fakes and forgeries, was developed in collaboration with the Divisions of Conservation and Technical Research and Education. It examines the various means researchers use to detect fakes. During the research undertaken for the exhibition, several pieces have been determined to be forgeries, while others have been cleared from suspicion.
Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry highlights the passion of Henry Walters (1848–1931) for magnificent jewelry from a large variety of cultures and periods. Mr. Walters' collecting efforts resulted in the most wide-ranging private collection of jewelry in the United States, spanning the period from 3000 B.C. to the early 20th century, from simple Mesopotamian stone pendants to masterpieces created by Tiffany and Co. The exhibition showcases more than 200 pieces of jewelry, combining extraordinary highlights from the holdings with amazing objects—exhibited here for the first time—from the Walters' vaults, where many treasures reside due to limited exhibition space. Originally a traveling show, the exhibition has been enlarged with more than 50 additional objects for its exhibition in Baltimore, including works that were too delicate to travel, such as a stunning 19th-century Chinese imperial headdress with vibrant kingfisher feathers, gemstones, and pearls.
Jewelry appears very early on in human history and has never lost its appeal. In most cultures and periods, the significance of jewelry went far beyond personal adornment. It was often deemed to have magical and protective powers, and could be worn by men, women, and children in life or death. The type, quality, and quantity of jewelry frequently indicated the owner's social status or his or her religious or political affiliations. The variety and depth of the Walters' collection makes it possible to take visitors on a journey through time, highlighting the development of jewelry with regard to materials, styles, and techniques. The exhibition reveals fashions, revival styles, and technical innovations throughout the ages.
Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry was organized by the Walters Art Museum. The exhibition includes many spectacular pieces from the renowned collection of Benjamin Zucker (New York), which are on loan to the Walters. Bedazzled is presented by The Women's Committee of the Walters Art Museum with lead support from Betty Cooke, Bill Steinmetz, and The Store Ltd.; Richard S. and Rosalee C. Davison; The Eliasberg Family Foundation; and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation. Additional support is provided by Bob and Jackie Smelkinson.
Promotional support for Bedazzled is provided by The Baltimore Examiner.