Precious Metals: Celebrating the Work of Modernist Jeweler Art Smith

Art Smith designed cuff links for Duke Ellington and a brooch for Eleanor Roosevelt. His work was featured in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar (in the 1950's), and he moved in the same circles as James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne. "His designs were interesting and modern. They appealed to people who were artists," says gallery owner Mark McDonald. Smith's jewelry was "sculpture to wear—theatrical, usually large, in copper, brass and silver," adds McDonald. The Brooklyn-raised, Cooper Union-educated jeweler owned a shop in New York City's Greenwich Village for more than 30 years. He died in 1982, but his work continues to be celebrated in exhibits across the country. Turn the page and check out the creations by the next wave of Black artisans.

1 of 11 The Estate of Art Smith

Art Smith designed cuff links for Duke Ellington and a brooch for Eleanor Roosevelt. His work was featured in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar (in the 1950's), and he moved in the same circles as James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne. "His designs were interesting and modern. They appealed to people who were artists," says gallery owner Mark McDonald. Smith's jewelry was "sculpture to wear—theatrical, usually large, in copper, brass and silver," adds McDonald. The Brooklyn-raised, Cooper Union-educated jeweler owned a shop in New York City's Greenwich Village for more than 30 years. He died in 1982, but his work continues to be celebrated in exhibits across the country. Turn the page and check out the creations by the next wave of Black artisans.

Smith, circa 1970

2 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

Metallic boa necklace, circa 1964

3 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

Triangle Necklace, ca. 1969. Silver, turquoise, lapis lazuli, rhodochrosite,

4 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

New Orleans Necklace, ca. 1962. Silver, three semi-precious stones: Labradorite

5 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

Stone-in-Cuff Necklace, ca. 1969. Silver, semi-precious stone

6 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

Undulation Ring, ca. 1961. Gold, chrysocola, amethyst, carnelian

7 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Linda Kandel Kuehl in loving memory of her husband, John R. Kuehl

Pair of Cuff Links, 1974. Gold and silver

8 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

"Lava" Bracelet, designed ca. 1946. Silver

9 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

Circles in Cube Ring, ca. 1960. Silver, tourmaline (elbaite) matrix

10 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

Last Necklace, 1979. Silver, two hard stones

11 of 11 Brooklyn Musuem/Gift of Charles L. Russell

"Patina" Necklace, ca. 1959. Silver