Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger at The Museum of Arts and Design


Thomas Laine Jewelry Blog

Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger at The Museum of Arts and Design

One afternoon, when Barbara Berger was a young girl, she discovered a pair of Chanel earrings at a flea market in Paris. In that moment, a great love affair that would last the rest of her life began. She describes it as a “coup de coeur” – that is, she quite literally fell in love with the earrings and, by extension, the wondrous and fantastical world of fashion jewelry itself.

Barbara’s personal collection is currently on display at The Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle. The collection, which she amassed steadily through the course of the last half-century, offers the visitor what is essentially a survey of work by the greatest fashion and costume jewelers of all time – the gods, so to speak, in the fashion jewelry pantheon.

For example, the collection contains numerous pieces made by the storied French jewelry house, Gripoix. Gripoix, which was founded in 1869, was the first house to use a specialized technique for setting and enameling cast glass called “pate de verre”. Their groundbreaking designs signaled a new era in fashion jewelry in which imitation of fine jewelry was no longer the only objective. Artistic expression and innovation drove designers to push the limits of materials and explore the boundaries of what is traditionally considered correct and even tasteful in the art of jewelry design.


Gripoix.-Feather-bib-necklace_0 Feather Bib Necklace by Maison Gripoix

Gripoix_04A_03.-Floral-brooch Floral Brooch by Maison Gripoix

It’s hard to imagine that the 450 pieces on display at the Museum represent only a fraction of her collection as a whole. (Her collection currently contains over 4,000 pieces, and she continues to collect!) The breadth of Berger’s collection is truly remarkable, and reflects her discerning eye for the original and exceptional when it comes to design. It contains incredible works from Miriam Haskell, Kenneth Jay Lane, Schreiner, Chanel, Trifari, and many, many more.


D01_2999_Iradj_Moinisp Lobster Brooch by Iradj Moini

Chanel_28 Cruciform Brooch by Chanel

Schreiner Bib Necklace by Schreiner

For information about the exhibit, which runs until January 20, 2014, please visit

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