Holiday Giving Guide: Affordable Jewelry at Museum Gift Shops

Detail from Venus in Front of a Mirror by Peter Paul Rubens
Detail from Venus in Front of a Mirror by Peter Paul Rubens. Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane Pinterest

When it comes to holiday gift guides, oftentimes the featured gift suggestions are beyond most people’s financial reach. Here at OBJ we believe a wish list doesn’t have to be an exercise in fantasy; we’re dedicated to bringing you jewelry gift ideas that won’t break the bank this holiday season.

One way to achieve this goal is to explore unique and affordable jewelry at museum gift shops. Whether in-store or online, these go-to jewelry resources usually offer 3-day shipping, gift wrapping and include a holiday gift card with purchase. So let’s start shopping!

The Met Store

The Met Store at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a favorite destination of savvy New Yorkers, and one you can easily access from your computer, tablet or smartphone. Brimming with meticulous reproductions of artworks and antiquities, The Met Store also offers a wide array of reproduction jewelry you won’t find anywhere else.

Venus Pearl Earrings

Photo courtesy of metmuseum.org
Photo courtesy of metmuseum.org

In The Met’s painting Venus in Front of a Mirror, Venus wears nothing but a bracelet and a pair of pearl teardrop earrings; one is white, and the other— reflected in the mirror— is black. The Museum’s “Venus” drop-style pierced earrings are based on the goddess’s baubles. They have been produced in cooperation with the Princely Collections of Liechtenstein.

Note: These mismatched earrings are both classic and on-trend. With one white and one black pearl, the recipient of this thoughtful gift can wear them together, or one at a time.  $65 at metmuseum.org

Cuff Stuff

Photo courtesy of metmuseum.org
Photo courtesy of metmuseum.org

There’s no doubt about it, the gold cuff bracelet is having a moment. Earlier this fall we featured Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s matching cuffs by Van Cleef & Arpels, and recent runway collections showcased the wide gold bracelet look.

The Met’s Wedjat Eye Cuff, inspired by an amulet in its collection, adapts the popular jewelry symbol of a human eye with the facial markings of a falcon. This symbol was believed to fend off sickness and promote well-being in the afterlife, making it one of ancient Egypt’s most popular motifs…worn from the Old Kingdom into the Roman Period. $250 at metmuseum.org

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

The MoMA Design Store & Gift Shop in New York carries gifts, accessories and home décor pieces from around the world (more on jewelry for the home next time). As is true with most museums, membership has its privileges. You can earn anywhere from 10 to 15 percent off purchases when you become a museum member.

Memphis Wing Earrings

Memphis Earrings
Memphis Earrings. Photo courtesy of moma.org

These original archival earrings were created by the Memphis Design Group, a collective of designers whose work was characterized by postmodern design featuring colorful decoration and asymmetrical shapes in the 1980s. These limited-edition pieces were handmade using the intricate cloisonné process. Any slight color variations that occur are unique to the designs. $125 at moma.org.

 

 

Happy Birds

happy bird earrings and aviary classic black ruby earrings
Happy Bird Earrings, $45. Photo courtesy of moma.org
Of Rare Origin Aviary Classic Black Ruby Earrings, $1,450 at ofrareorigin.com

For fans of this year’s wildly popular Of Rare Origins earrings ($495 and up), MoMA’s whimsical birdcage designs are a fantastic value. Made in the Netherlands using 3-D printing technology, these happy holiday birds are only $45 at moma.org.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

The Art of the Ancient World collection at the MFA ranks among the premier encyclopedic collections in the world. The formal symmetry and simple elegance of Greek and Roman art are embraced in many pieces in the MFA gift shop’s accessible jewelry collection.

Greek Key Necklace

Greek Key Necklace
Greek Key Necklace. Photo courtesy of mfa.org

The Greek key is one of the oldest and most popular motifs in jewelry history. This 17” gold-plated necklace will work equally well with tailored outfits or a Little Black Dress for New Year’s Eve. Necklace, $98 (matching bracelet, $58, and earrings, $24), at mfa.org.

Why Knot?

Gordian Knot Earrings
Gordian Knot Earrings. Photo courtesy of mfa.org

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Gordian knot was an extremely complicated knot tied by Gordius, king of Phrygia. According to legend, even Alexander the Great couldn’t untie the knot, so he cut it in half with his sword. His solution to solve a seemingly impossible problem through bold action is the origin of the saying “cutting the Gordian knot.” Pewter with gold finish earrings on French wires, $30 at mfa.org.

 

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