Smithsonian opens display of jeweled art

Friday, July 11, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Fishing would never be the same with a fly reel studded with hundreds of rubies and sapphires. And what mouse could resist a diamond "cheese wedge" in a solid gold mousetrap?

Those and other spectacular pieces of jeweled art by Sidney Mobell go on display today at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

The San Francisco-based artist and jeweler has donated 19 items from his collection to the museum and several will make up a special exhibit through Sept. 15.

"Sidney has made important contributions to the evolution of jeweled art, and this collection provides a snapshot of American popular culture, a gem-studded retrospective of the past three decades," said Jeff Post, curator of the U.S. National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian.

Mobell, who has been called the architect of gemstones, delights in making everyday objects, from cell phones to sardine cans ,out of gold and precious gems.

Many items were inspired by fads or new technologies developed at the time the item was made. Others are as mundane as a garbage can, except when done by Mobell it's a gold-plated 10-gallon can labeled "La Garbage."

The pieces he is donating to the museum will become a permanent part of its collection.

Items included in the exhibit are:

--A diamond eye designed in 1979. The eye, on a gold necklace, is made of white and blue diamonds; the pupil is a natural black diamond and there is a "tear" made from a 1.05-carat pear-shaped diamond.

--Designed in 1975, a 14-karat gold mousetrap set with a diamond-covered wedge of cheese.

--A full-size 23-karat gold Monopoly board with tokens, houses, hotels and dice in 18-karat gold with diamonds, rubies and sapphires.

--Thirty-two diamonds, 237 sapphires and 253 rubies encrust a working fly fishing reel....

--A 14-karat gold cell phone set with 39 diamonds, 215 rubies and 212 sapphires.

--Fifty-five Russian diamonds enhance a 14-karat gold sardine can designed in 1990.

--A set of 28-karat gold dominoes set with 420 diamonds.

--Designed in 1980, a wooden yo-yo is set with 44 diamonds, 25 emeralds, 25 rubies and 25 sapphires.

--Any baby would welcome an 18-karat gold pacifier set with eight diamonds.


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