If summer holidays have kept you out of the city, you may have a treat waiting for you upon arrival in New York: the pietre dure (Italian for "hard stones") exhibit at the Met. The museum's second floor galleries are filled with ornately designed furniture, vases, and various objêts d'art all featuring hand-carved pietre dure that could take artisans years to complete for just one piece. As highly valued now as then, one recently auctioned example of pietre dure was sold for $36.7 million in 2004.
The exhibit will run until September 21. If your travels won't take you down 5th Avenue by then, see the gallery for stunning examples of this painstakingly rendered art.