In a city where people are pressed for space (and these days, cash), artist-designed jewelry makes an excellent alternative to a wall-hogging canvas. Often overlooked, these collectibles are gaining increasing attention. Aside from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which recently unveiled an Alexander Calder jewelry exhibition, Chelsea's Friedman Benda gallery has just opened a show of artist-designed jewelry entitled zerocarat.

[#image: /photos/58538c8457dfc3b0230f8190]|||||| Left, Louise Nevelson Pendant, 1985-86. Painted wood and metal. 20 unique works ranging from $19,000-$45,000. Right, Kenny Scharf Starrings (Earrings), 2008. 18k gold, diamonds, pearls and enamel, $6,000.

The show features 34 one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces (all for sale) from major artists like Louise Nevelson, Kenny Scharf, Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith. We'd wear one of Nevelson's unique wood-and-metal Pendants (1985-6), which stand out for their chunky, puzzle-like parts and varying textures. We also love how Scharf infuses his cartoon-like Starrings earrings (2008) and Speedy necklace (2007) with the same playfulness found in his art. And for an art-as-jewelry-as-art twist, private jewelry dealer Sara Benda, who organized the show, points to a gold Ettore Sottsass necklace, saying, "you could even hang it on your wall."


The show is on display at the Friedman Benda gallery through January 9, 2009.